Am I Wrong to Want Free Wi-Fi? New York City Does Not Think So

A s you might have noticed, I had not posted much over the past few days — primarily because I was in several places in Indianapolis where you have to pay in order to be able to log onto the Internet.

While spending $12.95 to access the Internet via Wi-Fi for the day might not be completely unreasonable if you plan on spending several hours, it can be impractical if you will be in several locations during that day; and if each location charged $12.95 for Wi-Fi access — one location described it as “basic” service — the amount adds up quickly. Four locations suddenly becomes $51.80.

Because I was not at one specific location in Indianapolis during the day for a significant enough period of time, it was not worth it to me to pay the price to log onto the Internet; and therefore I was not able to post more articles here at The Gate or respond to comments.

As a result, I stayed in those places in even less time than I had planned. Did those places lose business from me? If so, am I the only one?

Strangely enough, one place had free Internet access offered by a large telecommunications company whose wireless service I use — but I first had to prove that I am a customer; and even if I could, I was unable to download the required software to use once I could prove that I am indeed a customer. How stupid does that sound?

I could neither prove that I was a customer nor could I download the software — which apparently did not support the device I wanted to use anyway — so I abandoned my attempts to use this service for complimentary Wi-Fi access.

I am not naïve enough to believe that the setup of Wi-Fi access does not cost the host money. Connections, equipment, bandwidth, power and especially security — it could get rather expensive…

…but erroneous or not, I use the international airport which serves the greater Atlanta metropolitan area as a baseline: if it could support free Wi-Fi access — which was first announced back in 2012 and finally implemented earlier this year — then anyplace could. This is despite there being many airports within the United States alone which still do not offer free Wi-Fi access.

Still, the trend is heading in a positive direction: all 47 million members of the Marriott Rewards frequent guest loyalty program will have free Wi-Fi access as a standard benefit at greater than 3,800 hotel properties worldwide starting in January of 2015; and an initiative to replace pay telephones with free Wi-Fi hot spots around the City of New York will start sometime next year at a cost of approximately $200 million funded by advertising revenues from the digital displays of the approximately 10,000 kiosks from which the Wi-Fi signals will emanate, according to this article written by Matt Flegenheimer of The New York Times.

Companies and governments typically do not spend money unless there is a return on investment for them. In the case of free Wi-Fi access, it could mean keeping people at their establishments or locations longer as they surf the Internet — which could result in more money being spent on shopping, for example…

…and the cost could be shouldered by advertisers or other creative methods, as will be demonstrated by the City of New York. Even if the host paid for the cost, the return on investment could potentially exceed the cost in a short period of time, depending on the myriad circumstances.

Perhaps I am not wrong to want to have free Wi-Fi access after all — but will I get to the point where I will expect it? Should we expect it whenever we travel?

2 thoughts on “Am I Wrong to Want Free Wi-Fi? New York City Does Not Think So”

  1. Joey says:

    Starbucks has become synonymous with free wifi that whenever I travel, I do not mind going to a starbucks to get coffee and to also use its free wifi.

    One starbucks I recall that CHARGED for its wifi use was in Manila. I could not believe it. The barista was nice about it and told me a lot of westerners who visit tend to be as shocked as I was; but the fee actually helps free up space in the establishment since it was quite busy most of the time.

    Since you were in the USA, how come you didn’t use your smartphone to access the internet?

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      It is somewhat difficult to compose and post an article on a small portable electronic device, Joey; plus, I usually have my photographs on my laptop computer, which has a real keyboard.

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