More on WiFi pricing

My experience with ridiculous priced WiFi access on friday has been on my mind for some time now. Incidentally, I found some articles that support my thought that with lower and fairer prices, these access points could actually generate revenue, which I’m sure they now do not.
BoingBoing cites an Economist article which runs exactly along my thinking: “Users may be deterred by high prices. Even after a recent round of price cuts, using T-Mobile’s network of hotspots costs $6 per hour, $40 per month, or $360 per year. Other operators in America charge $40-70 per month. Prices in Europe are as high as euro130 ($150) per month. A study by ForceNine Consulting found that demand for Wi-Fi hotspots was highly price-sensitive, and that further cuts might boost demand. Only 3% of tech-savvy American consumers surveyed said they would pay $2 per hour for Wi-Fi access, but 20% said they would pay $1. However, a subscription to one network of hotspots does not entitle you to use others, so you may need one subscription in the airport, and another in the coffee shop.” They also say that “The Wi-Fi hotspot at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport is used by only a dozen people each day.”
This supports my guess that these hotspots probably idle most of the time. If that is the case, lowering the price *significantly* could work miracles here. Also, the problem of several different registration and billing schemes persists. There are several ways to solve that: you could have a meta-registry that brokers WiFi access and makes sure everybody gets his money without having to bother registering customers himself. There also is an opportunity to be missed for all the big internet providers: why can’t I log in using my T-Online username/password, for example? T-Mobile, still strongly connected to all the Deutsche Telekom companies, could just ask T-Online to check my ID, have them bill me at a decent rate, and get part of the money through them. Most probably, T-Mobile’s internet lines are T-Online’s anyway.
There are so many *easy* ways for those companies to make this a profitable business – I wonder how long it will take them to see this, too.

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