Internet Insight: Air Time: Free and Paid
In a future world in which road warriors travel about armed with a laptop and WLAN card, Internet access will be widespread, and sometimes free, if some in the industry have their way.In a future world in which road warriors travel about armed with a laptop and WLAN card, Internet access will be widespread, and sometimes free, if some in the industry have their way. "I think the whole concept of billing is archaic," said Hatim Zaghloul, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Wi-LAN Inc., the Calgary, Alberta, developer of fixed wireless network gear. In Zaghlouls vision of the future, businesses with public spaces such as restaurants and cafes will offer wireless LAN use to customers for free to differentiate themselves from competitors. This contrasts with one early instance in which MobileStar Network Corp., of Richardson, Texas, offered wireless connectivity to customers at Starbucks Corp. coffee shops. The service was not free, except when users accessed Starbucks Web site.
But restaurants arent the only institutions that might find it to their advantage to give something away for free. Corporations may start opening up their WLANs for Internet access to visitors to their corporate campuses. "The concept is more of a cooperative network, starting from big enterprises and big restaurants," Zaghloul said.