Netopia Offering One-Time Use Access Cards With Hotspot In A Box

Netopia announced today that they’ve released a turnkey hotspot offering for either service providers or retail owners to set up quick WiFi hotspots. The access points include standard Netopia software, including filters to block “inappropriate content.” In a separate announcement (not clear why this needs to be separate) they also announce that BellSouth is using the turnkey solution to power a bunch of new hotspots in Charlotte, N.C. What’s a little unclear from the press releases is how they’re dealing with business model issues. While they explain that the retailers who set up hotspots for BellSouth will get free DSL for a year, the only end-user business model discussed is that each turnkey hotspot will come with “user access cards,” which appear to be cards that include one-time use login info. In some ways, this moves the business model question to the location. If they want to give away “free” access, they can give out the cards for free (while still limiting who gets to use the hotspot). If they want to charge, they can just charge for the cards. This might actually be a good compromise for some locations, though managing the cards (and making sure you have enough and that they work) may prove to be too much of a hassle for some.

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