Why Do People Use WiFi at Coffee Shops?

A few weeks back, I contributed to a story on my local FOX TV affiliate about coffee shop squatters. We discussed how coffee shop’s policies vary, but really it comes down to etiquette on the part of the customer. If you’re going to spend hours and hours in the coffee shop, buy something from time to time.

This week, there was Wireless Cities forum in Minneapolis there issues like citywide WiFi were discussed. Assuming cities implement some form of municipal WiFi, will that take away the niche coffee shops have created as easily accessible WiFi hot spots?

According to this presentation by Brad Hokason (PDF) of the University of Minnesota, who studied why people use coffee shop WiFi Minneapolis, muni-WiFi may not put much of a dent in the coffee shop scene.

He found that most coffee shop hotspot users had access to broadband Internet connections at home, so they weren’t using it as their primary access point. Instead, they chose their surfing location to get out of the house and concentrate – albeit among a group of strangers.

Based on my own experience with San Jose’s municipal WiFi system, I’d surely seek out a local coffee shop providing WiFi over the more accessible muni system due to the intrusive banner placed in the browser. Assuming it didn’t have intrusive ads, or was paid and I had already paid, I’d have to find somewhere as accommodating as a coffee shop to do some surfing. That may be easier said than done.

via Peter Fleck’s Twitter

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