How much money would you pay for wireless access

by Volker Weber

As a speaker at the conference I enjoyed free access to the WLAN and the Internet. So I was able to check e-mail. I don't browse the web a lot, because there is no point going to a conference and then not paying attention to the sessions.

When Oliver asked me how to get access I told him to go to the conference office and have his hardware address registered so the WLAN would let him in. He came back and told me that he found out that the price was outrageous.

So here is my question: How much would you pay for two days of wireless access?

Read on to see what they asked.

120 Euro (US$143)


Sometimes I wonder why at some conferences they don't charge for running water in the basins. Now that would be a business model.

And in news from T-Mobile, they now have time-based GPRS rates (for a volume-based protocol). 70 € buys you 30 hours per month that you can also use on their UMTS network - and on T-Mobile/T-Com public hotspots which normaly cost 8 €/h or 18 €/day. What a bargain.

Haiko, 2004-05-12

Crazy! I don't think this will stay that way for too long. In my opinion this should be a service which is offered from conference centers or hotels anyway - I would never pay more than CHF 15.00 per day.

Perhaps users should start to pay just once and then to built up peer-to-peer network/hotspots :-)

Andreas Jakopec, 2004-05-12

Actually I wouldn't pay more than 5 Euro per day, but I am not that much of an online-junkie.
But the hotspot-providers do think that way:
either have 100 users who pay 5 Euro or have 5 Users who pay 100 Euro. The latter effectively makes them more money (fewer APs needed, less traffic)
And you always (seem to) find "business"-people who (think they) need to have access everytime and everywhere, because without them their business wouldn't run.

Greets Mike

Mike Hartmann, 2004-05-12

I would pay 8 Euro/day, if I am bored. For business reasons I think I would spend 20 Euro/day.

I wouldn't pay more than 2 Euro/h.



Bernd Malek, 2004-05-12

In my country, Republic of Moldova, an DSL connection to internet with speed 128 kb and unlimited trafic costs 400-600$. About Wi-Fi I thoink only in my dreams :)

Egor Margineanu, 2004-05-12

120 Euro ?? Funny. Same Price we pay for our UMTS card/month.
With 60hours, traffic unlimited (Vodafone).

Roland, 2004-05-12

Current rate over here seems to be about GBP 3-5 for an hour, day passes something like GBP 10-15. I recently paid GBP 3 for 2 hours at a Travel Inn hotel, that was one of the best offers I've found so far.

DSL with unlimited traffic is around GBP 30/month (but usually with a 12 month contract), making WiFi hotspots looking quite overpriced.

But EUR 120 for two days looks quite excessive compared to all that...

Armin, 2004-05-12

I chair a conference in the US each year. Two years ago we wanted to offer wireless access to the attendees. The conference center was going to charge $US25000 per day for 200 people (for a four-day conference). We couldn't afford it, so there was no wireless that year. The next year, a different conference center charged $US40 per person for the entire week, which was much more reasonable. We're still negotiating with the third conference center for this year's rate.

Lauren Wood, 2004-05-12

In Singapore access is SGD 0.21/minute (aprox 0.1 EUR/min 6.0EUR/hour) for most of the providers. The nice aspect (Not sure about THAT price): you can send an SMS while visiting us and get access that gets billed to your phone.
My favorite tarif (SG 25/month) was abandoned without notice. There are some prepaid plans, where you get 90min at SGD 10. Singtel offers one subscription where you pay for traffic. SGD 26.0 for 50 MB and SGD 0.37 for every MB exceeding that.
Most provider roam by now, so you can use any of the hotspots. The pricewar seems to get started now. Singtel has a promotion where they half the hourly cost.
;-) stw

Stephan H. Wissel, 2004-05-13

The complete w-lan infrastructure had to be set up for the event. It took two men for one day to setup the (10.000 .- €) equipment in that huge facility with many rooms.

Divide the cost through just a few subcribers and you will still loose money.

Felix Binsack, 2004-05-13

Assuming one does not throw away the equipment after that event, this figure is not very useful. Assuming the equipment would be useful for three years or roughly 1000 days, it would cost 10 € a day or 70 € a week. This calculation is equally stupid.

You can sell a whole lot of free beer and probably not a single serving for 100 €. In both cases the revenue is zero (but you would have to buy a lot of free beer). WLAN access is a bit different assuming that the cost is fixed.

Again assuming that you are able to break even your revenue curve cuts twice through the fixed cost line. If your are shooting for zero profit you choose the lower price because you can make a whole lot more people happy and the risk is lower at this end of the curve. Of course you don't know the revenue curve without knowing how much people would want to pay. That is why I am asking.

Volker Weber, 2004-05-13

I've been to four conferences this year in the US and at each of them the WiFi access was FREE and required no special config on the part of a participant (i.e. they were open, non-WEP secured networks).

WiFi access at a modern technology conference should be free. No questions. In addition, I would expect that any conference would also supply wired access as part of the package.


phil, 2004-05-13

(Hi Volker!)
The trend in the USA is towards free. This goes for conferences and business in general. For example, T-Mobile has convenient locations in Starbucks and other places, but they require short-term charges of $6.00 per hour, or $9.99 per day. This sounds reasonable until you calculate how much you actually use it – I don’t surf the Web in a coffee shop, and my average email checking is 5-10 minutes, meaning that I’m really paying a minimum of $1-2 dollars a minute for the time I really use.

This is still not a bad deal for fast access on the road, but I can get free but slower and insecure access (mostly Notes mail replication) from my cellphone via waptunnel ( , which I usually opt for to do a quick check of my mail.

I’ve noticed recently that smaller coffee shops and chains like Panera Bread ( are providing the same service for free as a loss-leader. It works for me – I almost always buy something when I stop by to use the access. I also like the fact that I just show up and connect – no account setup, credit card, etc. I know from experience in telecom that billing is twice the cost of network, so it may be that Panera does better than Starbucks in pure profit from secondary purchases vs. Starbuck’s cut of the T-mobile take. I for one hope it’s a trend that continues…..

Brian Benz, 2004-05-13

I want to pay nothing when I visit a conference. This is just "service" making it easier to say "yes" to the conference getting me the chance to take part of what happens in the office.

If any organisation whants me to spend some time outside they have to pay for the possibility to keep uptodate.

Schmidetzki, 2004-05-13

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