Tech-Friendly: More free Wi-Fi spots needed for ‘cloud’ to work

By Paul Gorski

The basic premise of “cloud” computing is that much of your electronic data is stored on computers or devices other than your own on the Internet. You might already be using Apple’s iCloud, or Microsoft’s Skydrive cloud services, but there is a long list of other services that allow you to create and store data online.

A major hurdle for the adoption of cloud services is access. For the cloud to work, you need a solid Internet connection. As our data devices become more mobile, we need mobile Internet access. Many computer and smartphone users pay for expensive wireless data plans, but these plans come with limits and restrictions. Fortunately, Wi-Fi access is an option for many.

Wi-Fi is a wireless networking technology that doesn’t connect you directly to the Internet, but allows you to connect to a network that is connected to the Internet. Access to Wi-Fi networks can be free or regulated through a pay-per-use service.

Why would a store or business pay to install a free Wi-Fi connection for me? To keep my business. Some restaurants and stores already offer free Wi-Fi access in an effort to bring in customers.

Unfortunately, free Wi-Fi is not unlike a parking lot. We’re more likely to go to a store with a parking lot rather than parking on the street. Some customers are more likely to go to places where their Internet connection is open and free.

I think it is unfair to put the entire burden of Wi-Fi access on the small business owner, though. Cloud service operators and the major Internet providers should help subsidize the expansion of free Wi-Fi. If they want customers, these companies should help “pave the road” to their services.

To this end, contact your cloud service company and your wired or wireless Internet providers and ask them to “please pay for the expansion of free Wi-Fi hotspots.” The response will likely be lukewarm, and they may wonder why you’re asking. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and they just might get the message if enough of us request it.

I wish you a belated merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.

Paul Gorski ( has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple IIe.

From the Dec. 26, 2012-Jan. 1, 2013, issue

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