The Pros and Cons of Free WiFi

Free WiFi.  Sign me up, right? What kind of chump would pay for something you can get for free?  Of course, the 60’s are long since over and the term “free” isn’t tossed around quite so lightly.  After all, the same people who once swore they’d never pay for music now show shell out shillings to download songs.  Meanwhile, once-upon-a-time free-water purists buy the bottled variety in bulk.

But free WiFi, come on, it’s the sensible solution.  Unlike a bottle of water or iTunes download, monthly internet bills run more than a mere dollar or two.  Who wouldn’t want internet access without a recurring bill? Not so fast…

Free WiFi may be free in terms of a price tag, but that doesn’t mean it’s without cost.  First, the Pro’s…

PRO’s:

  1. It’s free.

Obvious enough, but beyond it’s one fundamental selling point (or in a more literal sense, the lack of a need for a selling point) free WiFi has little to no advantages over a subscription based internet service.

CON’s:

  1. Unreliable
  2. Limited
  3. Sometimes Illegal

Trusting the age old adage, “You get what you pay for,” you shouldn’t expect much out of your free WiFi when it comes to performance.  No, not all free WiFi connections are unreliable, limited AND illegal.  But, you can bet your bottom dollar that almost any free WiFi access suffers from at least one of the three ailments above.

A Little More CON  Reconnaissance…

Unreliable – Say you’re saddled up to your neighbor’s wall, milking their unprotected network for all it’s worth.  Then, without warning, the signal gives out.  Who you gonna call? It’s not as if you can pick up the phone and say “Hey, will you restart your router?” Quite simply, neither your neighbor nor their internet service can be held accountable for your unforeseen inconvenience.

Limited – What’s the point of having WiFi if you can only bum a partial signal.  That’s like telling your dog you’re going for a walk and then tying him to a tree to let him run in circles.  And then there’s the complementary cafe WiFi you might find at a coffee house.  Is free WiFi really free WiFi if it comes by the cup?  And do you really want to ingest enough caffeine to give a silverback the shakes, just so you can stay seated long enough to finish your work?  Or you could go the entirely opposite route… Several 4G internet providers offer citywide service, so you can grab a cup of joe if you’d like, take your work with you where you need to go – or, go home.  The options are limitless.

Illegal – You know what’s also free?  Your neighbors pool, jewelry and car.  Of course, these things, just like free WiFi, are only free until you get caught.  At which point “free” is just another word for “trespassing,” “larceny” and/or “grand theft auto.”  When you run the risk of paying more than you ultimately would for monthly internet, not only is borrowed free WiFi  not-free, but it’s not even a discount.