smart phone, wifi

Offering free wifi in big cities has been a hot topic ever since wifi became a thing. Now, the subject resurfaced in connection with Budapest where there are plans to expand the 800 wifi hotspots that were established for the FINA World Championships. However, we have to ask whether it would be worth it just to make tourists happy.

According to Index, creating the system would cost about 50 million forints (155 408 EUR), but the annual upkeep would cost about 450 million forints (1.4 million EUR) – all coming from public finances. According to experts, most of the money would go to internet service providers, and the spots (like posts and columns where the hotspots would be) also require a large sum. The actual maintenance is only about 10-15% of the overall amount.

Hungary – the country with the fastest internet connection?

Would tourists even use it?

OECDPixabay / Illustration

The idea is similar to how free wifi services work in airports, for example. You have to give your email address in exchange for the service, and they show ads on the registration page. However, those who use the internet out and about in the city usually have a specific reason for it and only stay on the registration page for a few seconds. Add to this the fact that most people automatically delete emails sent as ads or for marketing purposes.

In order for the service to break even, the ads would have to bring a profit of over one million forints (3 108 EUR) every day. 

Unlike in airports, it is also not true that people would have free time on their hands – they are sightseeing and exploring the city, so they have better things to do than look at ads on their phones. Not to mention that free wifi zones end somewhere, too, and it can be really frustrating when your internet connection is suddenly lost. But what do you do in this case? Probably go to the next Starbucks you spot so that you can enjoy a secure internet connection and have a refreshing beverage at the same time.

In addition, connecting to free wifi hotspots can be dangerous. People tend to regard connections where no password is required with some level of suspicion and are usually warned against using them – even by smartphones and other electronic devices. So, money would have to be spent on signs assuring people that they have entered a zone where they can use free wifi securely.

When using free wifi services out and about, a recurring problem is losing the connection and then having to reconnect or connect to a different service.

Many people find it easier to invest a little money and make sure they always have strong and secure access to the internet.

Or, an alternative solution is doing all your research before heading out, in the hostel or hotel where you will most likely have secure internet and where you can ask for help at the reception desk.

So, the question remains – in light of all this, would it be worth spending 1.6 million EUR every year to get free wifi in the Hungarian capital?

Featured image: Pixabay / Illustration


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