On my way to go watch bad American Infomercials last week, I spent a lot of time in the airport, in this case the Vancouver airport. The usual time-honored geek-at-an-airport rituals were observed: the scurrying around with lowered head, looking for the elusive power outlet behind a seat, the plugging in of as many gadgets as the outlets allow, and then the groan that comes forth as you open your browser to see how much you get to pay for internet access for today’s airport tenure.
Many of you have probably had the airport wifi experience. You get online just enough to be given options for payment — 1 hour, 1 day, 1 month, or ongoing support. If you already have an account with the wifi provider, you are off to the races. If not, you have to (1) Register. (2) Pay. (3) Get a username and password that you will never remember. (4) Use it once. My favorite at SFO was always the fact that the usernames stuck around but that you (or at least I) couldn’t recover the password, so you had to end up appending numbers to the end of your usual username choice to get a new account for every visit. If you were optimistic enough to pay for multiple visits at once, well good luck getting in on the second visit. The experience is uniformly time-consuming and frustrating.
Canadian wireless providers have created a provider centric wireless service offering, where instead of having to give your information to whatever provider happens to run the hotspot, you can alternatively authenticate to a wireless provider you already have a relationship with, and and do the deal there. Once negotiated, your provider deals with payment on your behalf, your internet access charge shows up on your monthly bill, and you gain access to Vancouver airport wireless service, never having had to pull out your credit card or fill in a registration form.
Yes!!! This is exactly the experience that I want to see! Instead of having to hand over my data & credit info to someone I had no reason to trust, I instead chose an entity with whom I already had a relationship to act on my behalf. The transaction was easier for me, and I assume profitable both for Bell and for Telus. Wins, all around.
This is what needs to happen in general on the internet. By whatever means. I of course have my technology preferences, but it is the end result that matters the most.