Thousands Of Retailers Want To Offer Free WiFi To Get You To Buy More Stuff

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SmartMoney’s Quentin Fottrell reports thousands of salons, clothing stores and amusement arcades are trying to ink free Wi-Fi contracts with cable companies to get more shoppers through the door.According to Steve Herz, president and founder of New York-based marketing firm IF Management, free Wi-Fi and comfy chairs are still the simplest and easiest way to keep customers browsing,” Fottrell writes.

On May 21, the country’s major cable providers announced a new project, “CableWiFi,” that enables their respective high-speed Internet customers to access their home Wi-Fi networks, totaling over 50,000 hotspots.

That means if you’re a Comcast subscriber travelling in TimeWarner territory, you’ll be able to sign on using your preexisting, local login.

On the surface, the economics of both ventures — something for nothing — don’t entirely make sense.

But Fottrell quotes tech analyst Jeff Kagan for some additional insight into the groups’ calculus:

 “It may not be profitable, but there’s a lot of value in giving customers what they want.”

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