Free Wi-Fi has become a marketing tool for restaurants, shopping centers, and hotels to attract customers and create a better user experience.
While free Wi-Fi has value, many companies which offer such a service do it so poorly that many consumers would rather use their own mobile data, which costs them money.
Some of the biggest complaints when it comes to free Wi-Fi is the laborious process to use the service, and poor speeds.
Many companies require a lot of personal details before a user can use the service, which includes your name, surname, birthdate, email address, and mobile number.
This information is often used for direct marketing purposes, and people are understandably hesitant to share their details.
Poor speeds are another challenge, with some hotels and restaurants limiting downloads to 1Mbps to stop high-end users abusing the network.
These speeds are too low for a good online experience, however, and it is therefore no surprise that users avoid logging in.
Free Wi-Fi tested
To see which local companies do free Wi-Fi well, MyBroadband tested the services offered by well-known stores.
The tests showed that Starbucks easily came out on top.
Woolworths, Sandton City, and Brooklyn Mall, on the other hand, showed why people prefer to use their mobile data connections instead of free Wi-Fi services.
The difference between Starbucks and the rest is the simple sign-on process, and the great performance it offers users.
With most free Wi-Fi providers, including Woolworths and Sandton City, a long form awaits those who want to connect.
In comparison, Starbucks uses a simple page with a button which states “Connect”. After clicking this button, you can use their service without any further interaction.
Starbucks stores, with backhaul links between 100Mbps and 1Gbps, also offer much higher speeds than their rivals.
Free Wi-Fi test results
The screenshots below show the sign-on process and speed offered by several companies offering free Wi-Fi.