Public Wi-Fi: An essential to business or a burden?

Published in El Pais, 20 March 2018

Smartphones are wonderful devices, the things we can achieve with them are limitless, they are also great for browsing Facebook and viewing cat videos, unfortunately most people (self included) take advantage of this new technology for the latter. As enjoyable as these devices are, their reliance on mobile data can be costly and many of us are hit at the end of the month with an enormous phone bill. It is for this reason that whenever we are in a local establishment that we request the Wi-Fi password. Most of the time employees are happy to oblige as they see free Wi-Fi as a necessity to do business in this age but there is a growing number of businesses who strongly disagree.

Lately some restaurants are growing angry at consumers who are taking advantage of their generosity, often nursing a beverage for as many as two hours while surfing the web. Walk into one of these shops filled with lap top users will compare the atmosphere to that of a library and difficult to socialize. For these entrepreneurs, they have had enough and are starting to fight back. In Europe they often only hand out the password to those who spend a minimum amount of money and others taking a more unique approach to limiting laptop use to a small section of the restaurant and to make it less attractive for these freelance workers, raising the volume of the music, hopefully increasing the turnover of tables and improving the social environment.

Does this move make sense? One can certainly understand their grievances after hearing their point of view but there are benefits to offering free Wi-Fi for customers. You could set it up so customers using the internet would be redirected to your businesses website, it also makes it easier for them to “check in” on Facebook, providing free marketing and yes some of those writers that sit at the table for hours on end do spend more money the longer they are there. Of course, so many businesses offer free Wi-Fi that it could be something they could not afford to do, if you do not offer it then your customers will simply go somewhere else.

I feel the safest solution would be to meet in the middle. Especially in some countries that offer poor texting and data plans many see Wi-Fi as a way to communicate with their friends and family at no cost and internet may be a deciding factor when people are deciding on a restaurant. To provide internet to these patrons while making it awkward for laptop users may be the perfect solution to make both customers and business owners happy.

About Matthew Glezos 184 Articles
Matthew is Canadian and has a Master in Business Administration. He has international experience in marketing and strategy. He has a strong interest in technology and combines it with the business side.

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