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Wireless Networking Businesses Hardware

Panera Bread Is The Largest Provider Of Free WiFi 350

ayb11 writes "According to this article, the Panera Bread chain of Bakery/Cafes (think Starbucks that bakes their own bread) is the largest provider of free WiFi in the US. Their web site says, " There are currently 573 Wi-Fi enabled Panera Bread bakery-cafes, from California to Virginia. More are added every day." (Even my retired dad takes his barely-used laptop over there so he can get free refills on coffee.) Their full list of hotspots is here."
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Panera Bread Is The Largest Provider Of Free WiFi

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  • by Shnizzzle ( 652228 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:04PM (#11703696)
    It's just factored into the prices. Panera is good but pretty pricey. I doubt they would let someone who doesn't order anything just sit in their and use the internet for a prolonged period of time. It's a resturant, not a coffee shop.
  • by Augusto ( 12068 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:09PM (#11703773) Homepage
    I don't think it's unreasonable for businesses to charge for this, but it sure doesn't make a lot of sense to me when many are pushing "subscription" models to their customers.

    Went last night to Barnes and Noble and noticed they had a "Wi-Fi" sign. So I figured this is great, I hang around look at some books and catch up on my email, but lo and behold you have to pay for a 19.99 monthly (1-year min) subscription fee! Why would I pay for ISP accesses that is so limited?

    Yeah, they have a 2 hour $4 accesses, but this doesn't make much sense to me. The real attraction here is that if you want people to hang around your store, just offere it up for free, or charge a very minimal amount for usage that day (not for time).
  • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:10PM (#11703788)
    Has anyone moved next door to a hotspot just to get free access?
  • by randall_burns ( 108052 ) <> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:17PM (#11703864)
    Frankly it seems to me there ought to be free wifi in :
    libraries, shopping malls, hotels, pretty much _anyplace_ that wants to attract foot traffic.

    Personally I think eventually free wifi will be as important a piece of infrastructure as free roads. It wouldn't cost that much to unwire the whole country.
  • I Love Panera! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kiwidefunkt ( 855968 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:20PM (#11703910) Homepage
    I worked at Panera for a year and the location I worked at had free WiFi. As a result, we had our fair share of business-suit men and tea-sipping hippies who would bring in their laptops and just laugh the day away with their free intorweb access.

    It seemed to me that the laptop people were always the ones buying a single cup of coffee or just a soda, rather than a whole meal. This leads me to believe that frequent Internet users are more intelligent than non-frequent Internet users, because who the fuck would buy food from Panera?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:30PM (#11704035)
    Last thing you want at a place that serves food is people buying a single cup of coffee and taking up valuable seating during lunch hour rush. If I can't see a place to sit when I walk into a "counter service" resteraunt for food, I'll leave and walk down to the next.
  • by krswan ( 465308 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:45PM (#11704229)
    Switch to Firefox, it works fine on my mac at the local Panara.
  • by Travis Fisher ( 141842 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:49PM (#11704289)
    At least at the local Panera, their free wireless connection comes equipped with the SonicWall "firewall" which blocks visits to web sites based on substrings contained in the url. The list of substrings includes things like "sm" and "cum" -- so for instance you can't google for "cosmonaut" or "accumulator" or visit the Southern Methodist University web pages. Unless, of course, you take the care to use the escape codes %xx in place of one or more of these letters...

    Just wondering, is this paragon of stupidity in place at other Panera locations?
  • by SIGBUS ( 8236 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @05:13PM (#11704591) Homepage
    One night, I noticed that some (but not all) of the images on BoingBoing [] were not loading. Just for kicks, I right-clicked one of the broken images, and saw that the url led here []. Sure enough, I tried going there and got "Forbidden Category 'Adult/Mature Content.'"
  • by RafeDawg ( 138303 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @05:14PM (#11704601)
    This is marketing hype poorly disguised as a news story. The whole article reads like it was copied verbatim from a press release for large scale wireless network solutions. It begins:

    GoRemote Internet Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: GRIC) today further extended its leadership...

    Panera bread is held up as a great success story for this technology. The only mention the article makes about Panera actually being the largest wi-fi provider is the following:

    "Panera Bread (Nasdaq: PNRA) is the largest provider of free Wi-Fi Internet access in the United States with 575 bakery-cafes in 30 states currently offering the free service to our customers," said Panera Bread Chief Marketing Officer Michael Markowitz.

    So what Slashdot, we are to believe that Panera is the largest provider because their head marketing troll says so? Jesus, have a little journalistic integrity.
  • by djp928 ( 516044 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @05:16PM (#11704631) Homepage
    It can if their proxy automatically routes you to an IP address whenever you start making HTTP requests.

    -- Dave

When you are working hard, get up and retch every so often.