Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hicktown?

 The view from here


Nothing says "hick town" more than coming into an airport and having to pay to use the WIFI connection. But before I get into that I should state that I will be posting this rant from the airport in Calgary because I know that it, like so many other real city airports has free internet connections for its travelers. I was off on another business trip and wanted to check some emails but find that YKA still requires you to ante-up before hopping onto their broadband.

The cost isn't the issue, it's the principal of the thing.

Don't get me wrong. I love Kamloops. Kamloops is by far the greatest city in the world in which to live. Now I haven't seen all the other cities but I have seen quite a few and apart from some cervezca inspired love affairs with villages in Spain and Mexico, nothing comes close to being a Kamloops.

But, and there is most always a but, but if we are ever to shake off our image of being a poor cousin to Kelowna or a whistle-stop on the way to the Rockies then we have to step up to the plate. We have a very strong tech sector in town but who knows it? Wouldn't it be wise for the city to fill in the WIFI dead zones with free public access. Sure, you could have a little splash screen that welcomes the user to "Kamloops - where ideas grow" but other than that the service would be free.

As a tech traveler, internet access is one of the top items in my checklist in rating cities, hotels, restaurants and airports. Yes - the Kamloops airport is tops in its facilities, staff and convenience but consider the following scenario:

A business traveler is checked into the airport and needs to check a couple of quick emails before returning to the head office. He is about to make up his mind as to whether or not to relocate to Kamloops but his deliberations are paused as he has to fork over his credit card number to get onto WIFI. WIFI which, up till now, he has been getting for free on his cross Canada journey. Kamloops is not as tech-friendly as he had been led believe. His new office ends up in Road Narrows Saskatchewan.

While the aforementioned scenario is admittedly a bit of a stretch, the impression left on business travelers is not. Free, community sponsored WIFI in strategic locations is a smart investment in our future.

P.S. Arrived in Calgary, booted up, logged on using my facebook account, and hopefully the airport mined all of my data to learn what type of traveler was using their system and we are both the happier for it.

P.P.S. Flew out of Grande Prairie (population about 40K) and their municipal airport had free WIFI. Greatly appreciated the gesture so I think I may open my latest internet venture there. :)

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