DotSpot Wireless Debuts Free Wi-Fi Access Model
On Monday, DotSpot Wireless officially opened for business. It has its own ad-serving technology, but needs to lure advertisers and Hot Spot providers. NetZero offered a free Internet access service in exchange for consumers who agreed to be bombarded with ads. That business model flamed out, and the company was forced to shift to a for-pay service for $9.95 per month.
The founders of DotSpot Wireless picked up on the notion that any business with a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) connection can conceivably offer its customers free Internet access through a wireless router. Initially, DotSpot executives say that in exchange for working with DotSpot Wireless, Hot Spot providers will receive free advertising from DotSpot. The service is free for consumers, regardless of how long they use it.
DotSpot's research shows that people are unwilling to pay for Internet use for short periods of time, according to Lisa Fields, vice president-sales and marketing for DotSpot Wireless. Fields uses the example of automotive industry businesses, which also happen to be the company's first HotSpot to provide customers. "This is an industry which sells 70 percent of its products through the service part of its business," she says, noting that people who need to have their cars serviced must invest a significant amount of wasted time waiting for such services to be completed. If auto shops become Wi-Fi Hot Spots, says Fields, "it's a value-add to their business, and it will also keep their customers happy."
She says that the Schlotzsky's chain of deli/restaurants has seen a surge in its business since it embraced Wi-Fi technology last year, making it free for customers. Fields claims that the chain's efforts resulted in more than $100,000 in added sales in 2003 that can be attributed to the added value free Wi-Fi provides for Schlotzsky's customers.
DotSpot Wireless is equipped to serve rich media, banner, and sliding ads. Sliding ads slide in and out of the bottom left or right corner of the user's browser. The ads are less than 30K in size, take no longer than six seconds to load and display, and can be served every five minutes. Flash ads will be served once every thirty minutes. DotSpot Wireless will not serve pop-ups, according to Fields.
DotSpot's first wave of Hot Spot targets is the automotive industry. Next, DotSpot will target the medical industry, including doctors' offices and medical labs--another segment where people have grown accustomed to long waiting hours. From there, DotSpot Wireless wants to bring their free, ad-supported Wi-Fi service to more mainstream Hot Spot centers like coffee houses and restaurants. DotSpot's Fields remarks that the company was reluctant to start there because the competition in the for-pay Wi-Fi market is rapidly reaching the saturation point.