Wifi Access

I’m on a business trip today, and to complement my time, I borrowed the office laptop, rife with wifi connectivity. I intended to sit at my gate at Hartsfield-Jackson Intl. Airport, checking my morning email, perhaps blogging, but I discovered that, although there are six available wireless networks in Terminal A, all are pay services. There’s nothing free for me to hook into.

The cheapest one is T-Mobile HotSpot, for $4.99 a day, but apparently you need to be a member. Everybody else is $7.95 per day.

I don’t understand the economics of this service. Let’s stipulate that I’m a frequent business traveler who depends on internet connectivity to do my work. It has got to be cheaper to go in through my cell phone than to pay $4.99 a day. On the reverse side, if I’m not a frequent business traveler, I can wait until I get somewhere with better priced (i.e. “free”) internet access.

I suppose they wouldn’t be maintaining these price plans at ATL if no one was using them, but I can say that I’m not one of them.

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7 Responses to Wifi Access

  1. Jeff says:

    A lot of business travelers say “My company is paying for it.” I personally always try to save my customers money, but when it comes down to it most companies don’t really care. Your time is money, for you, and for your business. Paying $8 for you to be able to work makes that time potentially profitable at a much higher rate than $8/day.

  2. Chris says:

    When I’m on business travel and a fee like this comes up at the hotel, I click ok and whip out my AmEx without even blinking. At airports though I tend to go through a mini trade study in my head to decide if the 35 minutes of use I’ll get is worth the $8. The “per day” is clearly a joke. How many people spend more than a few hours in an airport under normal circumstances.

    That’s it! It’s a conspiracy with the airlines! More passengers get stuck, more people use the internet services! (Like THAT would be break even.)

  3. Bill says:

    How much *does* it cost to have a cellular card on your laptop? Like I said, if this were a continous problem, cellular has got to be cheaper.

  4. Mebbie says:

    Thanks to my bad travel karma, I’ve spent 6+ hours in a hotel several times in the past year. Each time I’ve sprung for the 7.95 or 4.95 so I can actually get something done other than picking my nose. I’ve done this enough times that I’m actually a “member” of several services. How sad is that?

  5. Ken says:

    At least with T-Mobile and AT&T/Cingular, a cellular card in your laptop is $80/mo. I used it one month at my last job, two months at my current job, and the bill never fails to surprise me. It’s better to just pair your laptop to your cellphone via USB or Bluetooth and use its data connection.

    On travel, I usually seek out the closest coffee shop or cafe with free WiFi, log in via VPN, and check my email. When WiFi isn’t available, I pair my laptop with my phone and use its much slower connection (GPRS/EDGE).

  6. Mebbie says:

    I meant to say 6+ hours in an *airport*! Oops.

  7. Mike says:

    DTW is like this as well, but PIT has free and open access. And some of thse places have monthly plans (I know T-Mobile is one) for frequent travelers – it also gets you free access in places like Starbucks and the like that buy in with the same company.

    But I really have to wonder if, with the exception of airports where they have you captive, this model is ultimately doomed. Too many other places are offering it for free.

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