News blog for Seattle's Fremont neighborhood

 

Fremont Coffee Shops Approach Wi-Fi Access Differently

September 27th, 2011 by Sean Keeley

By Mwiza Kalisa

Some coffee shops provide Wi-Fi to customers for free, but Fremont Coffee Company is trying something different.

Last year the company introduced a Wi-Fi code system that lasts up to three hours. Despite the time limit, the system is working well for the company and its Wi-Fi users.

Assistant Manager Brandon Mills says that the current passcode system is reliable. “I know there are things, like support, that go along with the system we have which is helpful,” he said. “If there’s ever a problem, there are people to get a hold of to ensure that our customers are happy and connected.”

The company has gone through three different Wi-Fi systems. In previous years customers could purchase a four-hour passcode which was administered by the coffee shop. At one point free Wi-Fi was provided to the neighborhood, but many customers complained about the poor service. “It crashed all the time and there wasn’t anything we could do about it,” Mills said. “Now it’s a better system all together.”

Grady Lemoine, a PhD student at UW, has seen the company go though the three systems over the years. Lemoine, who is a regular, typically spends 2 to 3 hours at the coffee shop. “This is the one that has worked best of the three,” he said. “It’s a small price to pay for Wi-Fi that is reliable.” When Lemoine goes over the three hours he says that the baristas are happy to provide a new code.

Caffé Vita, Starbucks and Caffé Ladro are among coffee shops that offer Wi-Fi with a purchase. “People like that we have Wi-Fi, it fills up quickly,” said Holly Walter, manager of Caffé Vita. Some have gone to different lengths to use the Wi-Fi service. Although it doesn’t happen often Walter says there are days when people pull up in their cars. “It’s like going to a restaurant and [only] ordering water,” she said.

“We’re here to make good coffee,” Walter added. “Internet is a bonus.”

Photo: Mwiza Kalisa

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