Free Wi-Fi hot spots multiply

Panera Bread, Schlotzsky’s Deli, Krystal restaurants and other independent cafes, libraries, parks and a growing number of cities, offers free wireless Internet access. No strings attached.

The trend marks a major change from well-publicized efforts by companies such as Starbucks, Barnes & Noble and FedEx Kinko’s as well as many hotel chains. They offer Internet hot spots at many locations for a fee ranging from $4 to $10 a day.

JiWire, a company that tracks Wi-Fi use, says Wi-Fi service is available at 32,000 U.S. locations; 90 percent of them charge a fee but as the number of Wi-Fi hot spots grows, consumers will become less willing to pay for it, predicts JiWire Chief Executive Officer Kevin McKenzie. “We’ll see more free Wi-Fi popping up, becoming a public utility like electricity and water.” Full Story…

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