Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why Isn’t Wi-Fi Free At ATL?

If Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport ("ATL") may be the opposite. Actually, since my 2008 adventure, my trips to ATL haven't been too bad. There always seems to be groups, generally high school or college athletic teams, wearing matching outfits, and there are now Five Guys located in several terminals. However, I can't understand how in 2013, ATL still doesn't have free Wi-Fi.

Before I get into this too much, let me state that this is definitely a first world issue. This post may even sound elitist. There are significant problems in the world including war, hunger and poverty, and I'm writing about the wireless internet access of an airport. I understand that in the grand scheme of things, this isn't even a small issue, it's minuscule. Yes, perspective is important.

Now that I got that out of the way, why isn't Wi-Fi in ATL free? Here's what the airport's website says:

Hartsfield-Jackson is “on the way to free.” Customers expect free Wi-Fi just as they expect free chairs and free use of restrooms. However, they also expect and deserve fast uploads and downloads and 24/7 service. User access fees ensure that right now.

The Airport has dropped the price for Wi-Fi access by about 40 percent — to $4.95 — and is 100 percent committed to quickly finding ways to remove fees as a barrier to Wi-Fi access without eliminating the great service that customers expect.

What does this mean? On the way to free? Although there is a fee for general internet access, you can access numerous websites (Atlanta colleges, tourist attractions and government agencies as well as airline websites) for free. So how hard is it to make the other sites free? People need to read Sean's Ramblings from anywhere for free!

What exactly are the user access fees? Seriously, I'd like to know. How much would if cost for an Atlanta or international company to sponsor this? That way, anyone could login, click a box stating that you won't do anything illegal online and then have the login page take you directly to the Home Depot or Atlanta Thrashers Falcons website.

Wi-Fi is free at Washington Dulles which I realize isn't as large and busy as Atlanta, but it's still a major international airport. Wi-Fi is also free at Washington National and Jacksonville airports. Make it happen ATL!


Unknown said...

I feel like WiFi should just be free everywhere. The government should just build giant WiFi broadcasting towers. I have no clue if that would actually work, but whatever.

Kenny Peskin said...

I think Atlanta, like Chicago (and formerly Dulles), foolishly signed deals with Boingo or another vendor on an exclusive basis. Now they are locked in to those deals, unless they are willing to buy their ways out of the contracts.

Sean said...

Josh - I agree with you, but I'm sure that cable or cell phone companies would never let this happen.

Kenny - That actually makes a lot sense. I hate when that happens when I spent so much time writing a blog post!