OK, so we know where subscription Wi-Fi is. You can find it at Starbucks, Burger King, MacDonalds, Borders, et al. But where’s the free Wi-Fi? You know, the little bonus that’s going to get you in through the door of an establishment and buying drinks or food as you check emails, load up photos and plan the tomorrow’s activities.
In the UK, bars and cafes like to shout about their free Wi-Fi, just stopping short of A3 signs that pronounce: “YES THERE’S FREE F*CKING WI-FI HERE!!!” By comparison, in the US it seems to be hidden in tiny letters in between menu options on a chalk board or – worse still – is nowhere to be seen!
So far, we’ve found it by going to the obvious areas. Students are bound to work on laptops, so there are plenty of cafes in the student district to meet your needs. Step outside that into any other area of Manhattan and it’s pot luck.
On one occasion we’d given up our desperate search as we awaited some important trip news via email. Choosing a trendy bar to relax with a Sierra Nevada we were curious when someone came in and sat opposite with a laptop and started tapping away. “He’s probably just finishing the latest chapter of his novel,” said one of us. “And he doesn’t need the internet for that.” But when we asked the returning waitress if there was Wi-Fi on the premises she replied with a “Sure” as if it was obvious.
So, time to buck up your ideas New York. We need food. We need drink. And we need to update our Facebook status to make all our colleagues insanely jealous. Let us know you’ve got all three and you’ll be getting our custom. The alternative just isn’t what we expect from the country that leads the way in advertising.