(Not Quite) Free Wifi

Im in London today and have been for the last 4 days or so. I am also traveling around a large part if Europe after tomorrow. I’m looking at heading through: Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France and Czech Republic. I’ll be visiting all these places in a bit over a month.

Something I’ve noticed while spending time in London is that a lot of places offer free wifi. I think it’s really cool to see a city such as London giving free wifi to both the locals and tourists. This is really good for me because while I bring my iPhone I don’t let my phone use any carriers and I’m unaware of any company that would give me a prepaid sim for all these countries + who would I be calling?

Whenever I’m eating, drinking or any activity really I’ll have a quick check to see if there’s any wifi available. Most of the time I’ll find something.

The Problem:

So why am I writing this post? I’m writing it because most of the free wifi points around London are broken. Not physically broken. They send out a signal fine but what a lot don’t do is cater to foreigners. Starbucks and McDonald’s are two good examples of good wifi. You join, agree to some obscure terms of service then off you go. So many others are looking for market data and require a UK address, UK phone number and an email address. I only have one of three there.

The Solution

The way I see this being solved is either:

1 – If you’re calling it free wifi make it free. If you’re going to call your network “super good free wifi” then deliver what you promise. Make it easy to join, connect and use. I’m okay with limits on free wifi such as time or data capping.

2 – Charge for your wifi. If you’re pretty uncomfortable with giving free wifi to people for whatever reason that’s fine but don’t then call your network free wifi. BT is a company that while I disagree with their practice I like their implementation. As far as I can tell they have a lot of wifi points throughout the city and if you’re an existing customer you sign in with your existing account if you are not then you can purchase minutes, hours or a day pass.

About Nick

Melbourne based web developer that loves building front-end systems with anything from vanilla JS to React. Infosec student and active learner. Subscribe to the blog

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