The cost of a restaurant's free wi-fi

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by coolwater, Jun 22, 2009.

  1. coolwater macrumors 6502a

    coolwater

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    Jun 8, 2009
    #1
    I would assume the cost of a restaurant's free wi-fi would be:

    Wireless Router + Monthly Internet (commercial) Service

    Wireless router is a one time fixed cost, so the real cost is just the monthly bill.. am I right?

    Well, I am not so sure, because if the cost is just that low, why only a few places have free wi-fi for customers? Does anyone know about this?
     
  2. Muncher macrumors 65816

    Muncher

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    #2
    Money is money, and most restaurant owners/managers still don't consider free WiFi to be essential to the happiness of the customer; after all, what percentage of people go into a restaurant with a Wi-Fi capable device, and what percentage of them actually take advantage of the Wi-Fi?

    Now, don't confuse a white table-cloth restaurant with a cafe. People do go to, say, Panera Bread, with laptops with the intention of working.
     
  3. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    Most of them probably try to make money off of it or at least pay for it by charging the customer. They would probably expense the router over a year or two when deciding how much to charge customers. So, assuming they have a $180 Apple router and they expense it over two years, it would add $7.50 a month to the bill for the amount they would need to make to breakeven each month. Of course most restaurants/cafes probably already have internet if they accept credit cards, so in reality they are probably trying to make a couple of extra dollars by selling wireless to their customers. Either way, nothing is as ridiculous as $15 a day wifi at Vegas hotels.
     
  4. xboxer75010 macrumors 6502

    xboxer75010

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    #4
    I usually go to McDonals, they charge for Wifi but if you have AT&T, you can use yout username and password for your AT&T account to get free internet.
     
  5. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #5
    Places with free wi-fi attract people who just sit there by themselves taking up tables for much longer than it takes to eat something, while groups of potentially paying customers go elsewhere to find an open table. I'm actually surprised as many places offer it as currently do.
     
  6. QuarterSwede macrumors G3

    QuarterSwede

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    #6
    Seriously!? What a rip off. They're already making a killing from people in the Casinos. That's utterly ridiculous.
     
  7. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

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    #7
    Most CC terminals are dial-up, and most restaurant/cafe locations are still all-POTS. Even if they did have an IP connection, it's likely DSL, and imagine sharing that out to a few laptop/iPhone users simultaneously.

    You don't get around much, do ya? :D

    Most full-service hotels across the nation charge for internet access, ranging from $10 to $15 per day. Pretty standard, regardless of chain and city. And yes, it's unconscionable, considering the same chains' "budget" brands manage to do it for "free." If it really costs that much to make it available, I say just add a buck to everyone's room rate, and it's covered.
     
  8. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #8
    They do it because they know people will pay for it. It's a rip off but until people stop paying it they will continue. Maybe iPhones and other smart phones with 3G will provide some competition to hotel wifi.
     
  9. coolwater thread starter macrumors 6502a

    coolwater

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    #9
    Right. People occupying tables for hours on end could hurt the business. That's why Starbucks limits wi-fi for 2 hours. But, whenever I go to McDonald's or Wendy's these days, the places are so empty and I am thinking.. only if they had free wi-fi, I would eat here even though I do try to avoid their food.

    Anyway, so the real cost of free wi-fi isn't too high after all.

    Panera Bread and Caribou Coffee are the only two places I know that offer unlimited free wi-fi service. That's why they have my business.
     
  10. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #10
    And many others offer it for free. If it's that important to you, shop around next time.

    Besides, why are you going to Vegas and then sitting in the room on the 'net? :confused: (just kidding - I spent about 6 months out there off and on for work)

    I think another reason many restaurants don't offer free wi-fi is the liability factor. They don't want the RIAA coming after them for all the knuckleheads downloading music from Limewire, or whatever other shady activity someone can think of.
     
  11. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    To tell you the truth, I'd managed to expunge the existence of dial-up from my memory, thanks for bringing it back. ;)


    I've been trying not to bring my computer lately. Plus, the last few times I've traveled on my own it was amazing if the hotel had a post-1980 TV, let alone wifi. Either that, or I usually stay in a condo where I can use someone else's wifi.

    I've never seen $15 anywhere else, but I imagine it exists. Most of the other places I've travelled have charged $5-$10, I was pretty shocked when I saw $15 in Vegas. Sure, its only $5 more, but $15 is so much closer to $20 which, for some reason, seems like a lot of money.

    Mostly to find restaurants, deals, events, spur of the moment things, etc. Sometimes its tough to plan things a few weeks in advance.
     
  12. dmr727 macrumors G3

    dmr727

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    #12
    Try hunting for a Holiday Inn Express, a Courtyard Mariott, or a Hilton Garden Inn. These tend to be newer hotels, with better amenities - without the higher price tag. Unless I'm in the middle of nowhere and need the full on hotel for a restaurant downstairs - I'll usually stay at a place like this.
     
  13. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #13
    Nah, I think I'll believe JNB. He travels and stays at hotels all across the country for 95% of the year. ;) I have also been to PLENTY of hotels where they charge ridiculous rates for internet. The except has been in Japan, where almost every hotel in the country offers free WiFi. Business Hotels (i.e., budget hotels in Japan) offer free WiFi, and the rooms are sometimes only around $50 per night.

    Bell Mobility, who offers the free Wi-Fi at Starbucks in Canada, charge around $8 per hour after you've used up Starbucks' 2-hours of free WiFi. Yes, per hour, not per day. :eek:


    I think your first point was correct. People occupy tables for hours, which hurts business. I can't blame businesses for not offering free WiFi.

    However, I do believe that there's a real cost of free WiFi. Places like McDs and Wendys would not benefit from offering it. Having people sit there all day isn't the answer if they're not buying anything. Perhaps they'd feel obligated to get another cup of coffee because they've sat for 90 minutes, but you can't expect people to buy a meal every hour.

    Starbucks is worse off. Starbucks lets you register 3 cards, and each card offers you 2 hours. I have seen people sit and use their internet for 4-6 hours. This happens while I am there reading a scientific journal article, or working on my thesis, so I rarely used more than 2 hours. Coffee refills are free, but I'd buy food. However, lots of customers bought a single coffee, got free refills, buy NO food, and use their internet for > 4 hours. Its amazing they still offer it. :confused:
     
  14. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #14
    Very true.

    McDonalds and other fast food restaurants are set up to discourage people from sitting around taking up space and not buying stuff....their seats are uncomfortable, the music is bad/loud, the lights are bright. Unlike a café environment where someone might consider buying a cup of coffee every hour or two that they're there, you're less likely to buy a Big Mac every hour you sit at McDonalds. :p

    Case in point: Today at work (a nice sit-down restaurant) a woman came in, ordered lunch and sat at her table for about an hour with her laptop. There were very few other customers, so it wasn't a problem at all...however if it had been very busy she would have been taking up valuable space. Free wireless encourages people to do that.
     
  15. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #15
    Over the past year I've spent around 60 nights in Vegas hotels and never had to pay for wi-fi. Granted, they were business hotels, but just the same, it's available if you shop around.
     
  16. FX120 macrumors 65816

    FX120

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    #16
    Who uses wifi?


    Not me. I just tether my phone to my laptop :D
     
  17. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #17
    I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in both London and Berlin and both hotels charged for internet access, I think £10 and €5, but it seems to be a Europe thing as when I was looking at hotels, all of them charged for it. But they were very nice hotels for the price and did have free breakfast which was a plus.
     
  18. dmr727 macrumors G3

    dmr727

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    #18
    Interesting! I'll keep that in mind the next time I'm overseas.
     
  19. Muncher macrumors 65816

    Muncher

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    #19
    Well, it can't be that bad for business if they're still doing it. Remember, at the core, they're a corporate entity that would cut it out of the bills immediately if they thought they could make more money that way.
     
  20. Signal-11 macrumors 65816

    Signal-11

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    #20
    Yeah, it's weird how it works. The more expensive the hotel, the less likely you're going to have free wifi. I suppose it's because the budget are trying to fill their rooms at about the same price so they try to offer more in the way of cheaper amenities.

    And I've seen quite a few McDonald's on the east coast that offer free wifi.
     
  21. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    Coincidentally, I've stayed in Holiday Inn Expresses in both London and Berlin as well. Though they were out of the city center they were much nicer hotels than the ones I usually stay at closer to all the action. The one in Berlin had a good breakfast, but it was kind of a ways from the center of the city out in East Berlin. The London one was out in Canary Wharf/Docklands area.

    Yeah, I usually go for those types of places when I'm traveling in America. Europe is another story, however. Usually I'm on a budget and I like to be near the center of most of the cities, so I end up in some crappy hotel. On the plus though, I usually get breakfast included, and I could live on nutella and bread.

    On the strip it seems like they eat you alive if you want it. Next time I gamble a little too much I think I'll ask for a wifi comp.
     
  22. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

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    #22
    I'v found that if I bitch a little, they'll generally comp the internet access (it's good to be Platinum… ;)).

    Oddly enough, I'm in a Residence Inn this week and they have tiered service. 384K for free, 1.5Mbit for $8.95/day or $29/week.

    I pretty much have to go for the bandwidth, most of the apps back at the office are hogs and are essentially unusable on slower connections. I do not miss dialup.
     
  23. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    Colorado
    #23
    When I travel and need to use wi-fi at a restaurant, I always buy something from them, try and go during off peak hours and limit myself to no more than 1/2 hour at the table.
     
  24. SkyBell macrumors 604

    SkyBell

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    #24
    Try $15 for 30 minutes in NYC...
     
  25. Signal-11 macrumors 65816

    Signal-11

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    #25
    Yeah? Try dialup from a satphone. 9600 bps, ~900ms latency.

    When I'm on my way to or from Africa, I usually pass through NYC and Amsterdam. The hotel they stick me in NYC, total ********. FAST, free wireless. Hotel in Amsterdam, very nice full service hotel. 8.95 EUR for 24 hours. 24.95 EUR for 72 hours. If I'm on my way home, I'm usually so starved for teh internets that I'll gladly pay.
     

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