Broadband should be ‘free’


Back in August I commented on Chris Anderson’s book discussing the concept of Free . My post then was about why it was that when staying in an Auckland hotel the cost of broadband access was so high, yet a few metres away I could at that time get ‘free’ access for the price of a cup of coffee.

Today I came across this article in the Dominion Post citing a speech by a tourism researcher to a tourist conference in Wellington. The thrust of the speech was that ‘free’ internet tempted people to stay longer in locations and to spend more.

Yet far too many places in NZ seek to charge high connection fees and/or impose stupidly low data caps.

As the presenter Ulrich Spiedel from Auckland Tourism Research Institute noted:-

Too many businesses in New Zealand were still charging for the internet, costing them and the country income and reputation.

Most international destinations had realised that, although counter-intuitive, it was cheaper to give web access away than charge for it.

“Putting infrastructure in to charge for it is as expensive as putting it in for free. It’s hard to find a hotel in Japan or Korea that does not have free wireless.”

Central Otago town Lawrence had made free wireless internet access a point of difference, he said.

The effect was travellers stopped, logged on, spent money and could be directly marketed to.

It is time that people got the message, else we will lose business and fail to grow our revenues. This seems to be another instance where Chris Anderson’s proposition would appear to be relevant.

The point is that ‘Free’ increases the opportunity to grow revenue in other areas and enhances the overall  vlaue proposition for NZ, or increasingly just gets us to a level footing with competitors.

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