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?



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?