Free Wi-Fi offered as courtesy to customers
As McDonalds and Starbucks offer Wi-Fi services at a price, at least one sandwich shop franchise has decided to serve up free Wi-Fi for its customers, and anyone else in range. Schlotzsky's sandwich shops only have 600 locations across the US, so they're a ways off from one billion served, but they're not the only ones rolling out free Wi-Fi:
One start-up company with designs on making the free Wi-Fi business model work is HotSpotNation. The Gloucester, Mass., company has developed a simple Wi-Fi turnkey system that can be easily hooked up with either DSL or cable modem broadband. Individual locations — typically a coffee shop or a diner — offer the service gratis. "We offer it as a courtesy," said Rick Noonan, the proprietor of Cape Ann Coffees, a Gloucester coffee house that offers free service. "It's been good for business. It differentiates us."
Six percent of Schlotzsky's patrons visit the sandwich shop primarily for its Wi-Fi access, but as the popularity of wireless-capable notebooks, PDAs, and even smartphones grows, I'd expect that number to rise.