Monday, December 29, 2003

A few people that I know have been introduced to wireless or internet so fluently that they have no clue how they got on without it. I currently have very few experiences. I live in an apartment complex that, while being fairly inexpensive and in a good neighborhood at the same time, it affords me little in the way of internet possibilities. I do not have cable and cannot afford the monthly fees for it, so I subsist on an inexpensive and yet extremely slow connection (think 28.8kb/s slow). My particular apartment complex does not have laundry facilities on-site (another way to keep the costs down I suppose) so I have to walk a little bit to get to the laundromat (not very far, but it feels far when you are carting a week’s worth of laundry).

On most days I only cart a book or two, but the last time two times I was there, I brought my laptop computer instead. As I do not have a portable CD player (I have bad karma with CD players, more on that another day) I usually bring my laptop with me to the laundromat so that I can listen to my CDs while I’m waiting for my laundry to finish. Earlier today when I had my computer on listening to one of my Christmas gifts from my sister (“Harem” by Sarah Brightman) I wonder what it would be like to have wireless access wherever you go. Think about it, you would be able to boot up your computer and be able to browse the internet while you are waiting for your laundry to dry at the laundromat, be able to do research from your lunch table in Subway.

I know that a few places already are offering these options. Nearly all St. Louis Bread Companies have wireless access. If there was a St. Louis Bread extremely close to me, I would be there regularly (that is, after I bought a wireless card) and cancel my dial-up access. I was at Borders almost a month ago and they have wireless access, but it cost. I suspect that places like that will have to wake up and smell the coffee, if they want people to use it and make it worthwhile, they will need to either get rid of the cost or make the cost worth the access in order to attract people as places like St. Louis Bread do not charge for their access.

Some companies have already tried this here and there. I remember an article that I read one time which was bemoaning the lack of access and tried to address it. McDonalds had tried a foray into wireless access by doing test stores. There is one big reason that it fell-McDonalds are known as a kid’s restaurant. Business people rarely go there because it is considered not an image they want to portray for business meetings. They would prefer to go to a coffee; bread, bagel, and luncheon place over a loud cartoonish rarely customer-friendly restaurant because it promotes a professional, customer positive atmosphere. McDonalds has been trying to stop a slump that is has been having due to over saturation of their market and that of their own doing (they over franchised their brand) by closing franchises that under-perform and by trying to create unique atmospheres to entice more people to go and “hang-out” hoping that those same people will buy more food and drink while there. One of these particular tests was adding what are called “hotspots” (areas where wireless access are available to some of those restaurants. Main problem is there has not been much demand in the United States and thereby there has not been much in the way of additional hotspots.

Hopefully the day will come that I can sit at my local laundromat and browse the internet while getting my laundry done. I can only hope.

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