January 8, 2004

Wi-Fi in Carson

Starbucks is still charging for wireless internet access, but at least one coffee house in town is taking them on with a free offering. Comma Coffee, located on Carson City’s main street right across from the Capitol complex, is now offering a free Wi-Fi hot spot. Last year Doc opined that Wi-Fi is just like milk and sugar; it’s a courtesy you give to your customers to get them in the door. It’s not supposed to be a profit center; it pays for itself in increased business, not in direct fees. The big guys still haven’t gotten the message, since all they see is dollar signs in the eyes of everyone who walks in. But the little guys get it, even in a town like Carson. And really, what costs are there anyway? A good wireless router is under $100 these days, and internet access runs you $30-$40 a month. Add a few pennies for electricity, and that’s your total hit to the bottom line. In return you get nothing but goodwill from the community, as well as a competitive edge over everyone else.

At least, for now it’s still a competitive edge. The day will come when everyone’s giving out Wi-Fi, and not having it makes your business stand out in a negative way. Going back to Doc’s example, imagine the coffee house today that charged for milk or sugar, or made you toss a dime in a box to use the john. Now go ten years in the future, and you’ll see Starbuck’s plan to charge people for internet access being looked back on with the same disgust. Comma Coffee’s on the train, but they’re only the first. It kind of makes me wish I was a coffee drinker.

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

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