July 26, 2011

303 words 2 mins read

Prevalence of Free Wi-Fi

Recently, I went through several airports (RNO, SLC, ATL, MSP, and YUL) and became indignant when a couple of them (ATL and MSP) required a payment in order to utilize their Wi-Fi. In retrospect, I realize that I really shouldn’t feel that way, but it is hard not to, given the preponderance of free WiFi.

I can easily recall (“back in my day”) when WiFi was just starting to be offered. Starbucks did a good job of making sure all of its stores offered it (though they did charge). First from T-Mobile (IIRC) and then they switched to AT&T. As someone who had an AT&T broadband account, I received free access to AT&T provided hotspots. I just had to sign in with my account credentials.

Airports were a little slower, but eventually they all started offering WiFi (also at a nominal charge).

Nowadays, all the Starbucks’ hotspots are free (yay!), and more often than not (at least for me) so is the WiFi at airports. I basically assume that if I am at the airport, I can get free WiFi, so when I see a pay screen instead, I got a little flustered. On the plus side, at least more and more of the pay screens are… “unionizing”? What I mean is that you aren’t always paying some random airport, you have the option to pay one of their providers, which means that you could pay at ATL and that same payment (if you bought All-Day or All-Month access) will have taken care of you when you get to MSP and find another pay wall.

This is rambling a bit more than I wanted, but basically I realize (and so should you) that we shouldn’t be getting upset when we have to pay for internet, we should instead be rejoicing when we don’t.