Skype have hooked up with Wicoms to launch Free Skype WiFi across the UK and Ireland. The basic premise is that businesses will foot the bill and pay a monthly fee of £9.99 (or less for paying annually) and their customers will be able to log onto their WiFi using their Skype credentials. For customers without a Skype ID, all it takes is a single step email entry in order to gain access.
Businesses signing up during October will receive a free Wicoms router (worth £49.00) and free access to the service. They’ll be contacted in November to see if they want to continue with the service and if not they’ll still be able to keep the WiFi router for free.
Cons and Pros for consumers
For consumers if you see a Free Skype WiFi sign in a shop, cafe or restaurant window you’ll know you can connect to the net for free. You won’t need to beg for their WiFi password or look for the sign, simply log in with your Skype ID and you’ll be connected.
The downside of using Free Skype WiFi is that the business can market directly to you while you’re on their premises through your mobile phone and market to opted-in users email addresses.
Cons and Pros for businesses
Firstly the business will need high speed ADSL – there’s no point promising your customers fast Internet Access unless you already have a decent Internet connection available. However with Free Skype WiFi, businesses can provide their customers with direct connectivity onsite and start to engage with customers in-store, providing special deals and product information to drive sales conversion.
There’s a cost to consider, but it’s minimal and it’s worth remembering the alternatives are to offer an open WiFi connection, give out the same password to all users or pay an alternative 3rd party to manage individual log ons.
If you can enable your customers to connect themselves to your WiFi using Skype credentials then it enables you to capture customer’s details and market to them in the future. Wicom say that up to a quarter of customers choose their cafe by the quality of Internet access, not the coffee and a free, reliable WiFi service brings regular customers back more often, staying longer to spend more money. Sending them a voucher or discount coupon makes repeat customers even more likely to revisit your business.
Businesses will also get an easy to use web portal so you can see statistics on usage, inclusion in the Skype WiFi hotspot finder and Skype WiFi window stickers.
Cons and Pros for Wicom and Skype
For Wicom the benefit is pretty obvious – they’ll receive a regular revenue from the businesses offering Free Skype WiFi.
For Skype it’ll increase their visibility and remind people to use Skype. The downside is of course if a business offers Free Skype Wifi but haven’t invested in a decent Internet connection.
In summary it’s free Internet for consumers when they shop or eat in their favourite locations; The ability for businesses to capture customer details and market to them both while they’re instore and in the future; Skype get promotion of their brand and Wicom gain a regular income stream. Overall it sounds like a winner.