Nothing makes us think subscription based software quite like 15 days of free Wi-Fi. Wait what?
It’s not easy to get your ad noticed these days, but packing in a T-Mobile hotspot, complete with 15 days of complimentary access sure doesn’t hurt. Select US editions of Forbes are arriving on door steps today with built in routers, and its all part of a marketing campaign by Microsoft to draw attention to Office 365.
To answer Rodney King's question, yes, we can all get along, even U.S. cable companies, a handful of which formed a super alliance of sorts to give subscribers access to tens of thousands of hotspots. Bright House Networks, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications, and Time Warner Cable are the five stateside cable companies working together to expand what's known as 'CableWiFi' into more areas other than New York City and central Florida, where the hotspot service has already launched.
From the "We're not sure how we feel about this" department: People attending the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas have a new way to get online -- homeless people. The Bartle Bogle Hegarty marketing firm has launched a non-profit drive called "Homeless Hotspots." Basically, they supply homeless Austin residents with a 4G MiFi hotspot; the homeless people wear a shirt listing their name and access info for the hotspot; and you give the homeless person a donation (which he then keeps) to use the connection.
James Bond is a badass because he's always prepared for whatever situation arises. The guy's had gadgets for everything, from exploding keychains to to a stun-gun cigarette, along with just about anything you can imagine. That is, unless you imagine USB cufflinks that double as a Wi-Fi hotspot dongle in a pinch. Unlike most of James Bonds' gadgets, Wi-Fi cufflinks actually exist.
If Japan ever decides to ditch the “Rising Sun” bit, “Land of the Awesome Vending Machines” would be an apt second slogan. A multitude of useful, weird and wacky vending machines litter the landscapes of the country’s major cities, offering up goodies ranging from exotic drinks to delicious noodles and heck, even space gold and hotel rooms (as shown by Tom Edwards in his 24 hour vending machine survival stint in the heart of Tokyo). Now, those ubiquitous Japanese vending machines are getting even more useful, as one company plans on rolling out units that double as free Wi-Fi hotspots in 2012.
Few things matter more than a solid Internet connection when you’re a geek on the run. Along those lines, you can find decent Wi-Fi at airports, but you’ll pay through the nose to access it – most of the time, that is. Skype’s pulling its best Santa Claus impression and gifting fliers (naughty or nice) with an hour of free Wi-Fi at 50 airports across the U.S. during the peak holiday travel season.
It looks like mobile broadband use is about to get a bit more pricey on what used to be the last bastion of unlimited data, Sprint. The carrier has confirmed rumors that it plans to move away from truly unlimited 4G data for its Wi-Fi hotspot and tethering plans. Most users will be subject to a 5GB cap starting in November.
Turns out Nintendo's upcoming 3DS handheld console has a few more tricks up its sleeve. In addition to a 3D display -- the 3DS's flagship feature -- Nintendo announced two upcoming collaborations, one with AT&T that will allow the 3DS to automatically connect to more than 10,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots, and another with Netflix to stream movies and other content on the gaming device. Suddenly the 3DS looks a lot more appealing.
AT&T caused quite a ruckus when they switched from unlimited data plans to a 2GB cap last summer. The nation's second largest carrier has shied away from adding Wi-Fi hotspot to its devices, so users were less likely to run out of bits. But now, the upcoming Inspire 4G will ship with AT&T's hotspot app installed. Customers won't have to worry about sharing those measly 2GB between all devices. Those that subscribe to the tethering plan will get an additional bucket of 2GB for a total of 4GB.
Users will first have to have the $25 Data Pro plan for 2GB of data, then add the tethering plan for an additional 2GB. So you're paying $45 each month for 4GB of data that you can share with the Wi-Fi hotspot. This is far from an ideal scenario. We would have liked to see tethering included and a higher cap to start with. Still, for those that need the hotspot functionality, the extra data will offer some breathing room.
Coffee chain Starbucks is partnering with Yahoo to roll out free Wi-Fi to all its locations starting on July 1. The current Wi-Fi setup offers access free access to customers who have a registered Starbucks card, or are AT&T subscribers. Non-AT&T customers that register are only able to get 2 hours of free access. AT&T customers must go through a multitude of steps to gain access to the free connection, but there is no time limit. If you don't fall into one of those categories, the cost is $3.99 for two hours of access. It's not the most appealing deal considering many businesses already offer free Wi-Fi.
Starbucks described the process of accessing the new Wi-Fi as "one click". We hope that means users won't have to register to use the service. Customers that use the new Starbucks network will see targeted content from various media partners including Yahoo and AOL. But you'll also get access to some WSJ, New York Times, Zagat, and USA Today free of charge. Users will also be offered a free iTunes download of the week. We think that's a reasonable tradeoff for free Wi-Fi where it was previously a paid service.