Computerworld: Free Hot Spots Pay Dividends

As pointed out by ArsTechnica, this ComputerWorld article shows that free WiFi actually makes money.

The details are from Schlotzky’s Deli, a chain in the US that has WiFi at 30 of its 600 locations:<blockquote>Wooley says he figures that the free Wi-Fi results in an additional 15,000 visits per restaurant per year by customers who spend an average of $7 per visit.

That means Wi-Fi service brings in more than $100,000 per year per outlet in return for an investment of about $8,000 per restaurant for wireless infrastructure, Wooley says.</blockquote>The speculation now is that once everyone offers free WiFi, the ROI will go down. Just at the very end of the article it goes on to say that the prediction is that for-pay models will win out (10 years from now!), with cellular operators dominating the market. Hmmm…and Schlotzky’s is using T1s for Internet backhaul – DSL is even cheaper. Unless they are using the connections for other things, like VoIP or something. I noticed hotspots at all the places we stopped on the way back from Kitchener last weekend: the Tim Horton’s/Wendy’s places along the 401.