16 Comments

Summary:

As more and more devices –- phones, netbooks and tablets –- come to market, the demand for Wi-Fi-based connectivity is only going to rise. But how much are you willing to pay for it? Would you watch an ad in order to get Wi-Fi?

As more and more devices –- phones, netbooks and tablets –- come to the market, the demand for Wi-Fi-based connectivity is only going to rise. The question is, how much are you willing to pay for it? For despite its ubiquity, Wi-Fi is still an expensive proposition — especially while on the go. The other option, of course, is to get ad-supported free Wi-Fi access.

According to San Bruno, Calif.-based startup Devicescape, nearly 68 percent of 3,000 people surveyed said they’d watch ads in exchange for free Wi-Fi. About 16 percent, however, want nothing to do with ads and are happy to pay for their access. Nearly 25 percent said that they are willing to pay up to $3 an hour for Wi-Fi.

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Charts courtesy of Devicescape; thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr user suttonhoo

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  1. It depends on my need for wifi at that moment. If it is work related, then I don’t want to be potentially bogged down with ad network (and potentially flash based) latency. However, if i’m just casually reading GigaOm and the rest of the great tech blogs, then i’m okay with the ads. :D

    My $.02,

    Best.

  2. Once more people seem to confuse the web with the Internet.

  3. Any ads I have to see, I make sure I don’t buy.

    1. Right on Martha! Obviously with you, ads are a good way to lose business.

  4. Om,
    Given Google’s toe-dipping into bringing high-speed Internet to 50,000 US homes and the fact that they are worth $125 billion because of advertising, haven’t we all sort of collectively agreed to pay (or at least subsidize) our access in return for ads? And that hasn’t turned out so bad.

  5. if we are talking about simply viewing ads on an anonymous basis than yes i would love to have free internet in exchange. but if i am expected to profile myself, be logged in all the time with my identity known and open myself up to targeted ads than probably not. if there is a chance that i would be endorse products to other through the contacts in my social networks for example than absolutely no way.

    my experience is that so many internet services that claim to be ad supports actually are more like the latter part of the last paragraph. to get me it would need to look a lot more loke tradition media advertising where i take in the ad without having to provide anything in exchange such as my identity or even worse the identities of people i know.

  6. Hi Om,
    As a humble non-techie read your insights with a bit of awe. And ofcourse enjoy the style of writing..As a lay woman,I think wifi on the go is already available free in hotspots across Europe (cafes, stations, shops), and with the increase in network capabilities and resources should if anything be available at inreasingly lower costs to consumers. I’m drawing an analogy here with decreased cost of mobile phone networks here I suppose.

    People perhaps might be open to paying for ad-free usage when its work related, and they need to stay focussed. However if they are forced to pay, casual wifi users might stick to the view ad-for-wifi option.

  7. free wireless at all costs.,
    my friend was implementing ads on router..

    but if you are hacker you can get always free wifi
    http://michkhoo.blogspot.com/2009/12/network-stumbler-for-linux-give-your.html

  8. When starbucks(with their frequent user card), burgerking, macdonald, malls etc offer free wifi why would anybody bother. If you have something unique or of value which cannot be available at that location by any other means I can see value in it.

    there is nothing unique about something like free wifi which is so commonly available at other places.

    It’s like asking people , would you pay extra for heating. People expect malls to be nice and warm(or cold) depending on where one lives. Wifi is the new utility. Stop thinking of it in terms of a value add. People will stop going to places that don’t offer free wifi in a few years. Period.

  9. I would buy a cup of coffee, which is probably far more remunerative to the provider. Or I would be in a place like an airport where I have already indirectly paid for amenities like bathrooms, desk space, and the electricity I’m using to charge my devices.

    Maybe, if the provider was not selling me anything else, I would watch ads. But the provider would have to provide a safe and non-intrusive way to present ads.

  10. Oh yeah!

    I don’t ever see ads (almost never; I may see one ONCE, but never again, anywhere, anytime! However my /dev/nul bit bucket would be very happy to trash ads for free wifi. A good local proxy, ad-block software, a well configured firewall, and an intelligently configured router/OpenDNS stops ALL ads MOST of the time.

    The stupider, the more mind-numbing and dumber the ads become, the more I enjoy the minimal effort it takes to trash them.

    So, yeah you propagandist and lying MarketDroids! Bring dem distracting, irrelevant, swinging palm trees my way for free WIFI. I’ll sign up tomorrow! Technology is a wonderful thing, not only does it give us access to the world of real and valuable information and knowledge, but it also allows us to filter out all the feces, like ads!

    I MAY (but I doubt it) reconsider my position when and if you all stop LYING, CHEATING, and SCAMMING; and when truth in advertising becomes the legal norm again. But for now? You folks and your horrible adverts, are a danger to public health (mental, financial and otherwise), and as such will be trashed as enemies on site.

    If this becomes a real public health hazard, like if you actually build a business model based on your deceptive and lying adverts, I may actually me able to “MONETIZE” ad-blocking systems to save the sanity of those getting “free” ad-based WIFI. It will be both fun and lucrative, and I will be serving the public good shielding them from the mind-bending garbage which harms them financially and socially.

    Go for it ass-holes! I am waiting in the wings to make a buck on your immoral stupidity.

  11. So let me get this right, people in California don’t mind watching ads. That’s sad, but I wonder what people in other parts think about it. Nice to see though, that 16% would not watch ads and would not pay. I’m with them. :)

  12. om i suggest u o check out adam n the u wont be praising ipad !

  13. Non-intrusive ads, yes.
    Pop-up, Top-up, non-skippable type ads, no way.

    Public WiFi is already pretty much complimentary in most places; I’m not sure what revenue stream these guys think they’re gonna catch.

  14. Can this free WIFI against watching ads be a reality. It works..bigtime.

  15. are we talking about replacing current hotspots or is this a discussion about full blown city wide public wifi. if it means i can dump my 3G data contract than i may be willing to tolerate quite a bit. but of course i am strongly against viewing ads to help monetize what is now free.

    also what about using this type of network for activities where ad viewing is not an issue? will downloading be blocked? email clients? streaming music/video? VOIP? i would likely selectively jump on an ad supported network for the above activities if not blocked in order to save bandwidth on my main IP link. if it was a city wide deployment that covered my home i may downgrade my DSL to a slower/cheaper tier and offload some of the heavy traffic to the free/ad supported wifi link. but use the DSL for browsing to avoid ads.

    why is this type of discussion only about wifi? if ad support can work than perhaps the telco/cable companies could light up wired connection in homes that are not currently subscribers and pay the costs through ads. they would have the added benefit of always knowing the exact location/identity of the users for ad targeting purposes.

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