Boingo and Linksys have banded together to provide Hot Spot in a Box for small businesses. The solution lets small businesses provide commercial WiFi to patrons on their premises.
It is targeted specifically for small businesses such as coffee shops, restaurants, doctor’s offices, gas stations, independent hotels, retail outlets, and office lobbies.
What I find interesting is the business model for this product. The small business sets up the hotspot, and then individual patrons must sign up and pay for the WiFi access. The small business gets paid a fee each time someone signs up for WiFi access.
Boingo claims that its product enables small businesses to compete with national chains that offer WiFi hotspots.
My colleagues who spend a lot of time in the coffeehouses are skeptical. They say the annoyance of being confronted with a “pay” screen when you try to access the hotspot, undoes all the positive goodwill of providing the hot spot in the first place — and may even anger patrons.