back to article Skype touts FREE* Wi-Fi across the UK

For a tenner a month Skype will let a business share its Wi-Fi network with Skype customers, but the biz will get window stickers and porn filtering too, so what's not to love? Online voice-chat outfit Skype and partner Wicoms will provide a free Wi-Fi access point to plug into a broadband connection, and a website to monitor …

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Childcatcher

Pay Peanuts

Pay Peanuts and you get.... yes that's it Monkeys!

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Silver badge

So I pay a tenner and let people use my bandwidth...of my existing internet connection? The article isn't very clear on this point. If I've understood it correctly, it's not very appealing.

Or is it the user interface that they are selling?

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Silver badge

Yes - that's exactly what they are selling.

Suppose you are an independant coffee shop, or B&B or local library.

You can attempt to use your L33T ninja sysadmin skills to setup a secure, filtered, monitored web access for your customers, separate from all your internal network.

You can call Cisco and be quoted $M for some spare olympic kit.

Or you can pay skype 10quid, and forget about it.

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nope, totally lost here...

So you can give Skype a tenner and they will then let you give away your bandwidth to the great unwashed? I'm not the sharpest tool in the box, but I really zero absolutely no reason for anyone to want to do this at all... where is the benefit to the business??

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Happy

Re: nope, totally lost here...

You are doing your bits for the human race & profit for MS.

What more do you want?

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Re: nope, totally lost here...

Because if you are a small coffee shop or pub or cafe etc you can add a useful facility to encourage people to visit your establishment, for an extremely small fee, and stop them going to Costa or McDonalds to get their free wifi fix.

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Re: nope, totally lost here...

"... if you are a small coffee shop or pub or cafe etc you can add a useful facility to encourage people to visit your establishment, for an extremely small fee, and stop them going to Costa or McDonalds to get their free wifi fix."

Given that a prerequisite for this service is a functional broadband Internet connection, my small business can offer that for free, skip the small fee and achieve a less restrictive result (customers using my free WiFi don't need a Skype account).

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Silver badge

Re: nope, totally lost here...

"Because if you are a small coffee shop or pub or cafe etc you can add a useful facility to encourage people to visit your establishment, for an extremely small fee, and stop them going to Costa or McDonalds to get their free wifi fix."

But it's already simple enough to provide wireless access to your customers.

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Simple enough for who?

Simple enough for you (and most people who read the Reg).

What about the people who aren't technically-experienced? How much would they pay for the kit and set-up (plus maintenance) to a third party? For a tenner a month, how many hours of technical support would you get?

My reading of this is that they (Wicoms/Skype) do all the work and for your tenner you give customers the same kind of access the big boys give. Tempting for a lot of the people I know running small customer-related businesses.

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Re: nope, totally lost here...

Though it's pretty straightforward to set your own access point up in a small business, they are not likely to separate private and public networks, and not deal with the elephant in the room - The Digital Economy Act 2010. Since that pushes culpability of copyright infringement onto the provider of the service (i.e. the venue owner), it could prove costly to provide 'free wifi'.

This service, offering the filtering, should also indemnify the small business owner, since the connection to this access point is no longer managed by them. Given the cost of a fully-managed service from the likes of The Cloud is quite a lot more, it's not a bad deal really.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: nope, totally lost here...

Seems an ok idea to me as it gives SMBs the following:

1. gets customers through the doors

2. limits legal liability

3. customers only need to register once, and to use many locations, meaning customers more likely to use geniune registration details

4. use those possibly geniune customer email addresses, so you can them spam them to hell and back.

5. any other stupid gimmicky mobile commerce idea you can come up with - order from you phone in a cafe maybe,

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Thumb Up

Re: nope, totally lost here...

Never mind the digital economy act and the copyright liabilities it brings, what if your "customers" start downloading kiddieporn, jihadist encrypted files, all that shit - you would be in for quite a lot of difficult questions, never mind having your computers confiscated. At least this method ensures there is repudiation for you and an electronic trail for them.

Oh, and why are the other posters so uptight about "their" bandwidth? - is it not genuinely a free resource - assuming your use does not max it out.

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Facepalm

Re: nope, totally lost here...

Given that a prerequisite for this service is a functional broadband Internet connection, my small business can offer that for free, skip the small fee and achieve a less restrictive result (customers using my free WiFi don't need a Skype account).

What restrictions have have you got in place to ensure the customers don't have access to your backoffice PC or the tills? Or anything else on your network? Do you pay for a separate broadband connection just for your customers? Just curious...

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Anonymous Coward

Call a spade a spade

What's misleading about calling a router a router?

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Gold badge

Re: Call a spade a spade

It's misleading because with only one way in and one way out and dumb forwarding between the two, you could argue that there is no "routing" going on. (I'm not sure I'd bother to have that argument, though.)

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FAIL

ADSL only?

It appears to be ADSL only, or is that because the Skpe marketing droids think all broadband is ADSL?

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Facepalm

When you say, "Skype,"

You mean Microsoft, don't you?

If I was a shopkeeper, the only possible benefit I could see in providing my customers with wifi would be...

---attracting people who want to use wifi rather than buy anything

---enabling the ones that do want to buy something to easily check out where they can get it cheaper.

Wait... 'benefit,' is not quite the word I wanted there.

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Van

It will give businesses the chance to force ads and special offers as a customer logs in on their phones. It would be great for larger businesses, department stores. Argos, DIY shops, Garden centers?

These days, people tend to take more notice of their phones, than placards around them.

Hardly surprising the "if I had my own business" types, don't get it. That's why you're not in business.

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I think MS/Skype have missed the boat by about 5 years on this one, bet you can count on one hand the cafes and pubs in a town that don't already offer free wifi to their customers. And for other businesses i doubt it would be worth it, Free wifi is only of a benefit to places where customers are going to stay around for at least 15 minutes and may continue to spend money by buying another coffee or pint, so offering it in a newsagents or DIY store isn't going to get you any more customers.

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FAIL

Something good about BT (shock)

With BT broadband at home I get free access to their openzone/FON network. which is quite prolific owing to most homehubs enabling it as default. Even in North Suffolk towns the damn phone keeps bleeping to say its connected to BT wifi. Back it up with a 3 mifi with a £4.50/month PAYG sim and coverage is very good.

A tenner a month to access an almost non-existent network doesnt seem very attractive.

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FAIL

Re: Something good about BT (shock)

Read it again. The tenner is paid by the business installing the wifi, the punters pay nought.

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Bronze badge

Some of you mentioned that it's easy to provide customers with free wi-fi.

Would anyone be kind enough to follow that up with how?

I tried fairly recently to do this and couldn't find a suitable software for doing so, despite much research.

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Go

Guest WiFi

The title gives a clue. Get a suitable wireless router with a separate guest network and Robert is your father's brother.

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FON have been offering a similar service for years, along with the option to charge

Nothing new, FON have been offering a similar service for years (4 million hot-spots), along with the option to charge for the bandwidth: http://corp.fon.com/en/this-is-fon

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FAIL

FON tastic ??

I've been using two of the first original FON Access point since they first came out - Cost me a mere HK$44 [~GBP3.6] each and later another HK$ 22 for their discounted Hi-Gain - stick it on the windows antennas.

They are still working, but I had to cut into one of the Wall-wart power units when a capacitor dried up and there was insufficient power output to get it to work.

I only leave them on to provide Wi-Fi to my maid's room *&* to supposedly give me free access to others' FON devices when I travel - HOWEVER - I've never found ANY free FON access when travelling in Europe, Australia - or China.

I'm just thankful that the quality of the hotels I stay in usually provide free Internet access.

FON ?? Seems to be a complete waste of time seeking a FON connection - except my own!

And I usually use any one of my 3 OTHER routers iattached to a 100Mbps fibre to the study to provide me with the best connections!

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Boffin

Dead Seat Zone

If the object is to increase footfall/customers for a business, the facility is a double edged sword.

JD Wetherspoons pub chain already provide a WiFi service which I have used and found very good.

The thing is, I normally go there for a nice steak with my partner on Tuesdays. During the Uni/College term time in Falmouth it can be difficult to find a decent seat but for students buying a cup of coffee/tea/coke or such, once an hour whilst typing out their bits and pieces.

Hogging the facility..one student per table soon fills up the space available.

One is minded of the Ralph McTell song "Streets of London", where "each tea lasts an hour and they wander home alone"!

A quick ready reckoning of the trade lost suggests that when commercial goodies are free. they become abused.

The facility becomes a drain on the business.

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