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More to the Price than the Cost of Free Wifi

Community Manager
Community Manager

Does it really cost that much to the owner of the network? I have 3 different environments that argue this.


It seems like today human needs are water, WiFi, and food. Possibly they are in that exact order. Now days you can’t get recipes off line because no one buys cook books anymore. Many customers weigh their option of were to go based on the business having wifi access or not.




First a hotel. Some hotels advertise free WiFi. This is fine, but in reality they need it to compete. For instance if I, a wireless engineer, travel to a job I will not stay in a place without it due to the need to have it to work. Other professions will probably have this requirement. Setting profession aside if you go on a vacation are you going to go a whole week without access? While I guess that would be nice it’s probably not going to happen.


"To charge for WiFi is just terrible. It's like charging for water, something you just don't do," Zobler said. "Having really good WiFi and having it free is critical." - Andrew Zobler, CEO of the Sydell Group


So what is the cost to the hotel without a guest network? I say business. It will surely cost them in some way. If the owner has a network for guests of the hotel to use this will defiantly not prevent customers from staying at the hotel (WiFi isn’t going to get me to stay at a roach hotel either.). While the initial cost can be high it is an ever returning investment that will not result in a loss.


Second a coffee shop, you know what I’m talking about... the green one. This is a perfect example of what wireless access can do for business. The concept seems to focus around having customers spend more time which equals more revenue for the store. I do not think it would have had the huge success it has had without it. What would you do at a coffee shop without wireless access? I can’t think of anything except drink your drink then leave. With the addition of WiFi customers stick around and possibly buy multiple drinks and food.



What is the cost to the restaurant without WiFi? Again I think it is business, but the impact wouldn’t be as substantial as the hotel but they would rely on selling the one item instead of the multiple items that are results of lingering customers using the wireless.


Third let’s think of a hospital. Hospitals, I would dare to say all hospitals have a wireless network in production. The network is used for a different, more important uses than checking Facebook or Twitter. The network is stable because in some cases it is keeping people alive. Not in the sense that if you reboot an access point that it will be fatal but it is a lifeline if you will connecting the equipment to the proper people to monitor the patient.


On the guest side of the network what would be the cost to the hospital without it? I think the cost would be funding. Why funding? As a patient lies in the bed for days on end what is he or she to do? We all know there is not a good show on during the middle of the day. I bet the patient would like to stream a movie or browse. Without the wireless to keep the patient occupied the patient could grow restless which could lead to angry. Every patient fills out a survey on the facility, doctors, nurses etc. If the patient is angry when completing the survey chances are it will be a negative review which costs the hospital.


These are all just relatively speaking of course no long term studies have been completed by me. I do think that wireless access is becoming a bit of a necessity for a successful business that focuses on interaction with customer. There are a lot of other technical factors with a guest network but in some cases it’s just as creating the SSID.


What are your thoughts?

Trusted Contributor I

I think in most cases wifi is a need for the business because of the customer demand for it.  As you stated, it may be the deciding factor where you stay when you're on business or vacationing.  This ultimately affects the business' bottom line. In the case of a hospital, I think there's less of a need for it.  Most patients probably don't have a say which hospital they end up, due to an emergency that put them there or in the case of a planned procedure, they were locked into the hospital because their physician works there.  Sure it'd be nice to have in a hospital, but I don't see patient demand driving that.


You guys have some great points. I would disagree with hospitals not having a demand for guest wi-fi. I worked for Kaiser Permanente for over 2 years. We used Aruba Networks for guest offloading. Guest wi-fi at times seemed just as critical of a network because it is public facing. There was a big emphasis in keeping our customers happy and providing them with a reliable connection to the Internet.


I do agree that most do not have a choice in the hospital they use because of insurance or proximity. 


I'd have to agree with the need for good wifi in Hospitals.  Having just surveyed a hospital for a potential big wireless rollout, the main drive behind it was to provide a proper guest service.  This was mainly for patients, but crucially visitors and relatives.  The current poor coverage and service was the biggest soruce of complaints against the hospital.  They went along the lines of, "This is a modern, leading hospital and your wifi is rubbish".


Ultimately, they are looking to provide for staff and clinical applications as well.


I once overheard a coversation between two people at a business.  One said, "Oh, there's free wifi here".  The other asked, "Is it good wifi or crap wifi?".  I should have asked them what they meant by 'good wifi', but yes, good wifi is good for business.

Guest Blogger
WiFi in healthcare is a different beast and nothing else compares. 
Voice is without question critical. Most voice happens over WiFi in hospitals. EMR where the patient data lives needs to be available anywhere at anytime. 
Guest network in helathcare has more meaning than a coffee shop, lets just say. You have long term patients whos only outlet to the world is via WiFi. You have family members who leave work to care for their loved ones and still need to VPN to do work. 
Good post!
New Member
Wi-Fi is a really vital part in Business these days, I've also used a lot of public Wi-Fi’s but the quality of most of them have been bad, I agree with you that the overall quality of public Wi-Fi needs to increase and if businessmen realize that if they provide quality Wi-Fi, than this will really help in the growth of their business, than they wont hesitate spending a few bucks on it, but currently people are not thinking like this hence are not investing a lot in it that’s why the quality in most of the places is not up to the scale.
New Member

Well you are quite right people really are not tapping in that WIFI is really critical these days just take my example for it, I own a knives store and I have provided high quality free WIFI in my store, well many people will say that’s not necessary, but when customers come and find supreme quality free WIFI at such a place they really get impressed and these little things really add up to your reputation as a Business, I hope everyone gets the point that WIFI really is water now It has to be everywhere.

Jacob Sam Manager At:

Community Manager

@Jacob Sam Your stance on the subject is one that should be the standard. Yet alot of businesses refuse to ack the infulence good WiFi can have.

New Member

@Jamie E yes Jamie but sadly some souls don't understand the meaning of satisfaction, you give satisfaction you get customers and your business blooms, people only think about money these days Jamie

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