802.11 users in Southern California should have a greater choice of public hotspots in the near future, as Cafe.com launches a network of Wi-Fi hotspots in partnership with independent coffeeshops, cafes and other businesses.
Cafe.com installs access points and billing systems in conjunction with business owners. Cafe.com bears the upfront costs and then shares revenue with the hosting business. Currently there are two Cafe.com installations in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, but company officials expect to have 30 WiFi hotspots in place by the end of the year.
“Southern California and Los Angeles in particular is severely lacking in availability of broadband wireless Internet service compared to other metropolitan areas such as San Francisco, New York and Seattle,” said Ronan Higgins, CEO and founder of Cafe.com, in a prepared statement. “The high tech industry has seemingly overlooked that the Southland, as home to the entertainment industry, has a huge freelance and home office workforce.”
The Cafe.com approach is a little different than the approach of Boingo; instead of requiring proprietary software to access the WiFi networking, Cafe.com requires used to sign up for access via an ordinary Web browser. Customers can sign up for payment plans ranging from pay-for-use at 17 cents a minute to a 200-minute plan for $15.95.
Like everyone else in the public-hotspot field, Cafe.com has entered into partnership with a larger, nationwide wireless-access provider; in this case, Cafe.com is a member of the GRIC TierOne Network, a worldwide network of more than 300 ISPs and telecommunications companies in 150 countries.