Sunday, November 06, 2005

WiFi in Airports

I'm on my way to Tucson for the annual re:public gathering. This is an invitation only event put on each year by the Center For Digital Government and it looks like it will be a great experience...a retreat really. We try to keep it small and allow lots of time for networking.
I'm trying out the wireless on my new laptop and it is very slick. WiFi has come a long way over the last three years, since when I first started experimenting with it when I was Deputy CIO for Utah. Both Salt Lake City and Las Vegas have wireless hotspots. The big difference is in Las Vegas the wireless connection is free and in Salt Lake you have to register through Sprint and pay $9.95 for 24 hours of access. Needless to say, thumbs up for Las Vegas and unfortunately, a thumbs down for Salt Lake. Upon arriving in Tucson I found that there was no Wi Fi available at all in the airport (paid or unpaid). Also, in the hotel which is really a resort, they had WiFi available for a daily fee. Although this makes a little more sense than at the Salt Lake airport, it still doesn't make any sense to break out a charge separately and then make people pay for it. It is pretty tacky, in my opinion. Seems to me it is now so basic of a service that they should roll it into the cost of the room. What would you think if you couldn't turn on the TV in the hotel room without paying some fee. Sure they have movie fees but you can still get Showtime or HBO without some silly add-on charge. Interesting how they view their business models on Wi Fi because many hotels, motels and airports offer it at no extra charge. I hope Salt Lake wakes up and realizes that free WiFi at the airport is a great economic advantage to the city. I wonder when the contract comes up for renewal?