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Contributing Writer

Public hot spots lead to private network benefits

Jul 24, 20032 mins
Cellular NetworksEnterprise ApplicationsHotspots

* Starbucks to piggyback corporate apps on public hot spots

While predictions of a bust in the public wireless hot spot market are abound, retailers and other organizations that have already made the investment are trying to get more bang for their buck.

Take Starbucks, for instance. In last week’s issue of Network World, Senior Editor Tim Greene reports that Starbucks is testing a plan that would allow the coffee house chain to put private applications across the wireless network (see story link below).

Some of the applications that Starbucks is looking to throw down the line involve hiring, training and inventory, Greene writes. The company hopes to have 2,500 stores enabled with public hot spots by year-end and then to eventually piggyback its corporate applications on those installments with data protected by VPN tunneling.

Already Starbucks, which charges for the service, was seeing signs of success with its wireless LAN rollouts at stores across the country. As my colleague Senior Editor John Cox reported in March, Starbucks noted that “wireless LAN users are staying on average about nine times longer than 70% of typical customers – 45 minutes compared to five minutes or less.” (see link below)

In a previous newsletter, I discussed the marketing value in rolling out these hot spot networks, even if they don’t produce serious profits. If you get people to stick around and buy more of your core product, then you’ve gotten your value out of the investment (see link below).

Now it seems retailers have the chance of getting even more out of those investments. If, like Starbucks, they repurpose the network for corporate applications, then the death knell ringing on public wireless hot spot deployments might just let up.

What do you think? Will retailers get more bang for their buck by piggybacking on public deployments? Let me know at