Wifi the way it should be

Two diametrically opposed wifi experiences today.

The first occured at St James Park where I was meeting up with a friend for lunch. I got there 40 minutes early, spotted a Starbucks and thought that I’d go and get myself hooked up and check my email. The wifi in all Starbucks cafes is brought to you through the nose by T-Mobile – at £5 for an hour it’s not exactly cheap.

I paid up for an hour anyway, which was at least a pretty painless process, and proceeded to check my email and drop a line to my mate to say I’d arrived early. He essentially came right over to meet me, and thus I ended up spending £5 for 15 minutes of wifi and £1.40 for a bottle of water. The wifi access terminates 60 minutes after you register, not after 60 minutes of use, so there’s not even any chance of pitching up to another branch and finishing off my hour.

After lunch I hoofed it over to Holborn where Martin Roell had told me there was an odd little cafe on Museum Street which offers free wifi. The Camera Cafe, half way up on the right as you walk towards The British Museum, not only has free wifi, it also has a downstairs area with comfy seats which is pretty much empty right now. Not only is the wifi free, but the people are friendly, the bottled water cheaper and the music marginally better than Starbucks’.

Patently the free model is preferable for users, but the wifi at Starbucks probably doesn’t net them a huge amount of money and it seems that there’s not a strong business case for them charging what they do. Personally, I’d be happy to pay if costs were reasonable and fair – not too expensive and paid by the minute, not the hour.

I’m only just getting into this whole wifi thing, having only just got myself a laptop that’s both light enough carry around without breaking my back and wifi’d up, but I do resent £5 for one hour or any part thereof.