Electricity and internet connectivity while traveling – why not give it out for free?

One thing that has bothered me during different trips around Europe is the lack of possibilities to load my computer’s batteries and gain good internet access around different venues. Any simple service provider – whether it is a cafeteria, restaurant, hotel or even an airline – will win me as their consumer if they have comparable offering otherwise, but can throw in these principally really cheap services for free as an added bonus. I hate it when I have to wait for flights at the airport and batteries are about to run out – and no electronic sockets are available, nor do I have internet connection just when I would have best time to utilize it.

Out of principle I am so cheap person that I resent businesses that try to squeeze the maximum out of business travelers, just because they can. Hotspot connections in major hotels and usage of computers in their business centers is laughably expensive, similarly connections at airports make your bum hurt. I rather not use the service and loathe the service provider, than pay 30 euros for few hours of connectivity for uploading photos and downloading messages.

I am inclined not to support ripping off me or my employer, even if costs would be justifiable as business expenses. I rather save those euros for something valuable.

Similarly otherwise great hotel – Abba Montparnasse – felt crummy, because they did not have a free internet connection for patrons. 24h wifi voucher would have been moderately priced, only 20 or so euros – but the download limit was capped at 500 or so megabytes. Did the year 2000 call and want their bandwidth limits back?

Similarly I love and support enterprises and service vendors who realize the world has changed and that online connectivity / free hotspots can bring in customers as well as brand loyality / support. I know that I can get a cup of refreshment and internet connection at Starbucks. I know I can get free internet connection at Apple Store. And so on.

And luckily for me during the trip to Paris, the hotel next to our hotel – Hotel Mercur – was one of those places that offer free wifi. Loved it, and will look at the possibility to stay at similar Mercur hotels when in Paris the next time.

Just the other week in Paris I enjoyed a lunch in cafeteria, where the cafeteria or the teleoperator Orange provided a free wifi. After that experience I started to look for other similar cafes and establishments, which would allow me to use their internet access and upload new photos to Flickr – as well as catch up on Twitter and Facebook updates.

Similarly this summer I adored restaurant Vapiano in Tallin, as besides offering great food for reasonable prices — they offered also free wifi.

If such a simple thing as a free wifi can bring this much good will and brand recognition, why don’t companies provide more of free hotspots?

I don’t get it.

Are telecom operators and their pricing structures for hotspots and / or business internet connections to blame or what? Do they want to protect their insanely expensive data roaming charges and not to cannibalize their commercial hotspot offerings? Is the lack of free off the shelf hotspot boxes the reason or what? Do free hotspots bring in rivalry Facebook gangs to fight or will people competing for FourSquare statutes cause too much ruckus?

Please enlighten me.

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  1. daviding sanoo:

    @huima On principle, I choose hotels with free wifi unless I have no other choice. When I was in Paris, I stayed a a Mercur (which was on the corporate list of options), too.

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