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NYC Behind European Cities in Free-Wifi Race

Traveling over the summer, I visited a few of the major European capitals including Rome, London and Paris where I found they have abundantly adopted free wifi.

In these cities, I easily found coffee shops and restaurants where I could get online. And surprisingly, this contrasts my experience at home, in New York City, where I am often struggling to find new public spaces to work with an internet connection.

This is no scientific study. But… Hey, New York! You are behind the times.

In Rome, free wifi has spread like a virus into seemingly every café and ristorante. Tourism, one of Rome’s major industries, appears to be the main impetus.

Restaurateurs have caught on quickly that advertising free wifi along with their Roman pizza helps reel in the throngs of hungry, lost and Internet-deprived tourists.

In London, this Internet lover (that’s me) was satisfied time and again as I encountered free wifi in every coffee shop I happened upon. And I like coffee in the mornings and sometimes in the afternoon too.

So while I didn’t visit every coffee shop across London, I got the feeling that more venues than not understood my needs. And in London, it was much less about tourism and more about providing regular patrons with an essential service.

In Paris, I had a similar experience. Free wifi was rampant but I saw fewer laptops around.

I think the reason for that has something to do with Parisian café culture where the custom of sitting for hours to discuss life with friends resists the laptop. Or maybe it is that those tables are just too small. I don’t know. It could be a combo.

Overall, I felt my internet needs were well met in Rome, London and Paris in a way New York still feels deficient. So, come on New York. In coffee shops and casual restaurants, let’s make wifi as commonplace as table salt.

What do you think about free wifi in coffee shops and restaurants becoming the norm? Do you think it will ruin the dining experience?

 

  • Raphael Pungin
    September 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    WiFi would be a great addition to any restaurant menu!

    • travelwithkate
      September 5, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      Agreed! Thanks for the comment.

  • Glenniem
    September 5, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    I agree, we need to have a more seamless wifi experience!

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