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February 28, 2005

Method Behind the Madness

By Nancy Gohring

Reader David Kelly, a student at University College Cork in Ireland, offered us his two cents on Eircom’s possible strategy behind offering Wi-Fi access from payphones: I set out one day to try to use some of the free access offered by Eircom from pay phones around Dublin only to discover it wasn’t very practical in rainy Dublin to find a place to sit outside nearby one of the payphones to get online. Kelly points out that Eircom is required by ComReg, the Irish regulatory agency, to continue to provide payphone service. Adding Wi-Fi to the payphones is relatively simple—Eircom only needs to upgrade the line for DSL and add an access point. While the Wi-Fi access is currently free, the trial may be an attempt to discover if Wi-Fi could ultimately earn some revenue for Eircom. With mobile phone penetration reaching nearly 90 percent in Ireland, I can’t imagine that Eircom makes much money from the payphones. Kelly also points out that Eircom sells ad space on the phone booths and also plasters its own advertising on the booths. Both are attempts to leverage the fact that they are required to continue to support the pay phones.

Kelly also suggests that Eircom might do better to add the Wi-Fi access to indoor pay phones, which may be located in train stations or shopping centers or high-traffic locations. That would make a lot more sense than the outdoor offering.

Posted by nancyg at February 28, 2005 1:13 PM

Categories: hotspots

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