Our local hospital – Hôpital Kirchberg in Luxembourg – has WiFi access available to patients, provided by P&T. Sadly it costs an unseductive €28 per day, or €7.50 per hour. As contrast, P&T offer home broadband from €29 per month.
I’m writing this after reading about the Wifi Liberator on Boing Boing. It’s a simple pairing of some hardware and software that lets you freely share your paid-for Internet connection at a WiFi hotspot with everyone in the vicinity. It’s probably against the terms and conditions of those hotspots, but they’re normally so overpriced and such poor quality that my sympathy doth overfloweth not. The WiFi Liberator is a manifestation of the discontent people have with pay-for WiFi services, and the operators should take note.
My wife spent 6 days last month at the aforementioned hospital after an emergency c-section. Incidentally, the hospital was clean and modern, and the staff were friendly and professional. After the birth I took the laptop in so she could email friends about the baby, keep in touch with me, and maybe post some stories, but the high price of WiFi put us off the idea. At one point I bought a one-hour card anyway, but there was no signal.
Internet access isn’t yet a utility service like phone or water, but a data service to the home/person will become a standard fitting eventually, quite soon perhaps. For some I think it’s already more important than water, air and sex (for some the Internet is sex). In any case, if it’s advertised (and it was, in the lobbies, the lift, on leaflets…) then it should at least work, and for that price it should collect my laundry too.
You may argue that WiFi access is often expensive, and that this hospital is not unique. But that’s not a reason to roll over. I’m still dreaming about how to provide some competition to this with my limited resources, and if I don’t do it then I’m sure someone else will, because €28 a day is a rip-off.