Thursday, August 23, 2012

Free wi-fi coming to malls

Google and Boingo are expanding wireless hotspot access to eight US malls, although they haven't yet detailed which malls.

The companies currently provide hotspot access in subway stations and other areas of New York City. They've said that at least four of the malls to get free wireless Internet access will be in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tampa and Seattle.

And the wi-fi will, of course, have a commercial tie-in. The service will be supported by Google Offers, which will prompt users to sign up for Google's daily deal site when they log on to the hotspots. One can also imagine that retailers at the malls would love to send wi-fi users coupons and sales pitches directly, in real time, as they browse the stores.

Many businesses, such as Starbucks and McDonalds, offer free wi-fi as well to draw traffic. Fast, reliable, wi-fi is becoming more and more of a standard service, as facilities ranging from airports to stadiums - frequently cell-phone dead-zones - update their internal antenna infrastructure. Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Time Warner Cable Arena both have upgraded internal antenna systems, for example.

With ad-supported or business-supported free wi-fi becoming the norm, it's tough to see customers accepting paid access to the Internet for too long in places such as airports for too much longer. How do you feel about trading some ad-viewing for free wi-fi? And do you think any Google-Boingo wi-fi enabled malls will be in Charlotte?


Anonymous said...

I want Ely's job.

Garth Vader said...

AT&T needs to upgrade their coverage at SouthPark. It's impossible to get a signal at Nordstrom.

Anonymous said...

Simon already provides free wifi at South Park,

Anonymous said...

WI FI? WOW- I am still happy with 9600 baud dail up- it works just fine--

Anonymous said...

Considering that they said it would be 8 malls, and that we know 3 of them are in SF, LA and Seattle, I'd say there is little chance that Charlotte is on the list.

I don't mind scrolling or waiting through an ad or 2 in order to get free wi-fi, as long as logging in doesn't automatically sign me up to be bombarded by 20 email ads a day.