Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Free Wireless Internet

Are We All Thieves?
Interestingly enough, the mom & pop coffee shop provides free wireless internet, where as a big chain like Barnes & Nobles will charge you $3.95 for a two hour session. The average homeowner pays $30.00 - $50.00, depending on terms, packages and deals. It’s worth it for mom & pop cafes to provide this free service, because they make up for it in other ways. But how come big chains like Barnes & Nobles can’t do the same? They say that the mass amount of customers they bring in is incredible for sales. They make a lot of money, due to people coming in and buying food and coffee, sitting at the Starbuck’s café within the bookstore. The internet provides them a way to do something, instead of just sitting there looking lonely. It’s a great place to do work, instead of sitting home doing it. Studies show that most people rather be out and about instead of being home.

Now, here’s my question. One homeowner is paying $50.00, like I do, because I don’t want the full package of phone service and cable along with it, while other people are paying $30.00, including all the bells and whistles. In a condo or apartment building, what do you suppose most people do who are internet savvy?

Think…

Think…

Most people have a computer, therefore needing the internet, right? Well, what most people don’t realize is, when you have wireless internet, the range is pretty good. Most of your neighbors are probably gaining access through the internet through your connection. They simply scan for a server-- and BAM! There you are. They hit ‘connect’---and off they go. The smart thing to do is to put a password on your wireless network. The smarter thing to do when doing this, is to not use the default password, like, “admin” or “1234”.

Most hotels provide wireless internet. Sometimes, if the hotel is very large, they’ll even give you a wireless antenna so you can get excellent reception, just as if you were sitting right next to the router. They’re only about $10 bucks each. Most hotels have the free wireless as a courtesy, incuding giving you the antenna at no charge. They can afford it.

Now think about this. If I were a landlord, I would totally supply my tenants with free wireless internet. Why not? Manhattan charges you up the kazoo anyway for a tiny one bedroom apartment- you think they can’t handle paying $50 bucks for 100 tenants? Each tenant has to pay around $50 bucks for their connection. The main question you have to ask is---is it ethical? It’s so easily accessible these days. Are the internet companies losing out on this? And believe me, I'm all for the little guy!

For instance, there’s a café right down the road from me that opened up this year. It’s a quaint little mom & pop joint that serves Starbuck’s coffee and delicious breakfasts and lunches. They have a gorgeous sitting area. I asked the lady if they provided wireless internet, and she said in this low whisper, “No, but you can still connect. Our neighbors at the law firm over there has wireless.” I felt weird. I don’t know why, but I felt very uneasy about using it. If people walked in and saw me using it, they’re automatically going to assume that they have wireless. I have a feeling that I would keep clicking on the “X” box, closing out my webpage, making them think I’m only using my word document working.

So what are your thoughts regarding free wireless internet, in the terms of just happening to find someone's network to connect with?

26 comments:

Lisa said...

A friend of mine got a new notebook this week and we were just talking about this.

I live very close to a Panera cafe and they offer free wireless. If I get online at home, I usually use their wireless (luckily, I work with computers and am usually sick to death of them by the time I get home, haha).

Part of me feels bad about this while part of me thinks, is there really that much difference between me using it in my living room or walking 500 feet to use it over there? I know it's a perk to get people in the cafe to make purchases, but I don't like their food and wouldn't make a purchase anyway.

The location and the ISP both know that if they're offering free wireless, people outside the location will be able to access it. By not password-protecting, they make the statement that they're willing to take that "loss," so to speak. But part of me still feels bad about using it.

Sandalina said...

Free is always good. LOL

But then again, if I was the one paying for someone else's free internet...

Ohhhhh I don't know. I'll just go back to burying my head in the sand and let everyone sponge off of me while I pay for my internet service. lol

~Dawn said...

If they don't lock it up, I will use it, not maliciously, but I will use it.

Having a landlord provide free wi-fi would be wonderful and I think, I would do the same for a tenet.

Matt-Man said...

Unless the person who is paying for the access gave me permission to use it, I couldnt do it. I hate that I have a small streak of morality running through me. Cheers!!

Lulu (Dan's cat) said...

Great! All my dad needs is wireless internet access outside the home. Then I'll NEVER see him!

MEOWWW!

Sue said...

For some reason, I never thought about someone else connecting on my wireless -- must password protect soon. Personally, I think landlords and/or businesses offering it for free would be a great thing. I would go to B & N to play and then probably leave with tons of books since I can't go in without buying something......It would be a great benefit to offer prospective tenants.....

Anonymously Saying said...

I'm wishing I was your neighbor right now. Are you paying for your entire building? ;)

Pittchick said...

It doesn't bother me one bit. Perhaps because I live with a computer nerd and our wireless is locked down.
He does help his friends piggyback free wireless if they ask him, though.

Jessie said...

I have never had to pay a bill for internet connection in the three years that Ive been living on my own. Yes, I live in an apartment. Yes, I sign onto the open networks, I always have, and I always will. Why? Because Im not harming anyone. Im not a "bandwidth nazi," and Im not up here looking at kiddy porn or something, Im just using it mainly to blog and post some photography pics. Ive never tried to hack anyone, Ive never tried to connect to a "secure" network by trying to screw with passwords or whatever, I just use whats available.

The way I feel is that their signal is occupying the space that I am paying for. Its in my apartment, so its mine to use. Not that I feel entitled, but I dont feel that Im doing anything "wrong," and it certainly isnt stealing because it isnt illegal. If it were illegal, then yeah, Id stop, but it isnt, so Im going to continue to use the signal that is occupying my space.

(Our Starbucks wants like $6 an hour, but someone who lives near them has an open network. I dont feel bad about doing it there either.)

Crassius Maximus said...

As I stated in my award winning post over at The Jammy2: This internet thing will never catch on anyway.

QUASAR9 said...

So Deb, how much does it cost
Mom & Pop coffe houses to offer free wi-fi to the neighbourhood?

The reason larger chains don't provide it free, is because they have to keep scratching their heads thinking of ways to charge customers for ...
a coffee, a seat, the air you breathe - and any other space they can bill you for.
You are lucky they still let you piss for free.

QUASAR9 said...

Mind you did I hear from Leesa that Cheryl Crow suggested maybe Starbucks to charge a dollar per square sheet of toilet roll.

Darwin's Dagger said...

It's called wardriving when you drive around with a laptop and a long range antenna looking for open networks to connect to the web. Oddly enough its named after that old Matthew Broderick film Wargames about the kid hacker who almost starts a nuclear war. There are several networks within range of my house, and sometimes when reception is good enough I'll use it to download files or surf the net. That allows me to stick with dial up for just reading e-mail and other low bandwidth activities.

~Deb said...

I love it!

"The way I feel is that their signal is occupying the space that I am paying for. Its in my apartment, so its mine to use. Not that I feel entitled, but I dont feel that Im doing anything 'wrong'."

I was totally looking for that answer, because my friend has "free wireless" in her apartment. Her neighbors never secure their networks. She has over 5 networks to choose from. But, I wonder why they haven't thought about this. They're all paying for wireless living under the same roof!

And yeah, how ridiculous is it for Starbuck's to charge $6 bucks for coffee. (I'm heading out to get some now actually.) It's worse than a smoking habit!

And the comment about Sheryl Crow? I would not want to shake that woman's hand! GAHH!

Amy said...

My hometown city of Mountain View, CA has entirely free internet access thanks to Google. Radios hanging on lampposts throughout the city are now broadcasting a signal that brings wireless Internet access to the city's residents, businesses, and visitors. All anyone needs is a laptop or other wireless-enabled device and a web browser to get online.

If a whole city can do it why not THE WORRRRLD!!!

Nancy said...

We get back at B&N by holding our monthly book club there and talking and laughing like sixth-graders (LOUD). I'm sure they wish we would just go away.

I hate paying for stuff I can't see. But I miss it if I don't. Especially electricity.

xoxox

kathi said...

How cool is it that a whole city (Montana View) is doing it?

I don't know enough about wireless to comment...no lap top :(

Oh, but I guess I did comment anyway, huh? Well, there ya go then, lol.

Love ya!

~Deb said...

Amy: Hmm, do you think internet will become free one day?

Nancy: Well, you don’t want to live like the Amish, however, some things are just to easy to gain access to!

Kathi: I would love to see you lug the big ol’ personal computer into a bookstore! You have to video that one for me. Youtube it!

Jillian said...

You can park in front of my house & use my wireless anytime!

Wes said...

This average homeowner just got hit with a 15 dollar increase since Comcast bought out my cable company. Now I'm above the average.... and that just blows.

~Deb said...

Jillian: You are too kind! Don't be surprised when I show up with laptop in hand!

Wes: Me too! My internet company gave me a 6 month term for $29.99...and now I just went up $15.00.

Laurie said...

when we moved in we had to steal our internet from the neighbor. god bless greeno.

now we use it legally though ;)

Take 2 said...

Interesting blog again...


For me it all comes down to my integrity. Do I believe it is stealing to use someone else's internet that they are paying for as a service for them to use. I don't think that they are prepared to pay for the whole neighbourhood.

I could not use anyone's personal wireless..... it is stealing their wireless. I hate the fact that we have to be so careful about our passwords etc etc because people are constantly trying to take our stuff.

Somehow someone got ahold of my credit card number and used it in Florida when I am in Alberta, Canada.... just an example of how the waters are getting muddy with all these issues.. wireless included.

Society is looking for easy ways to get something without paying.... So I encourage all of you to actually think this one through and know why you think it is okay and why it is not.

My 2 cents worth... take it or leave it.

Dana :-)

Sue said...

They really are not paying for the whole neighborhood though. They are paying for themselves (as I am). They are not being charged more for people piggybacking. It could potentially be a dangerous thing seeing as someone could screw with your system but....

As for Sheryl, I am sure she has a bidet so one square would all she needs (and of course a towel LOL)

Ricardo said...

I wouldn't mind bumming a free ride now and then but would feel better having my own up and running. but sometimes you need to hitch a free ride. What can you do?

ann said...

I have wireless internet so my kids can use their laptops here, but I thought you could block it from other users.

Personally I think it's wrong to take advantage of it that way. If I have to pay for it so should everyone else.

I just know I couldn't do it; I would feel very uncomfortable and equate it with stealing