The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced that the Wi-Fi ZONE program has been adopted by over 6,000 public access service locations in almost 50 counties. The Wi-Fi ZONE program began in March of this year, and has participating locations ranging from hotels and coffee shops to RV parks and McDonalds’ restaurants. The goal of the program is to help travelers find and stay connected when they travel - whether they are down the street at the local cafe or on the other side of the world. The Wi-Fi ZONE program has two primary elements - an online database of Wi-Fi ZONE locations (www.wi-fizone.org
) and a common visual indicator - the Wi-Fi ZONE logo, which is displayed at locations and Web sites. There is no cost for providers to join the program and the signup process is online, but services must be based on Wi-Fi CERTIFIED? equipment.
“This is a great program for public access service providers to drive additional business to their locations,” said Frank Hanzlik, Managing Director of the Wi-Fi Alliance. “Joining the Wi-Fi ZONE program is an easy business decision - you get more business at no cost and the only requirement is that the location use Wi-Fi CERTIFIED equipment. It doesn’t get any easier than that. Users also benefit because this improves the probability that they will be able to get connected at the provider’s location. After all, the whole premise of this industry is convenience, so interoperability is essential,” continued Hanzlik.
Many different types of service providers from around the world have joined the Wi-Fi ZONE program because it provides them with association with Wi-Fi - the world’s dominant wireless LAN brand. Locations benefit from displaying this brand on their Web sites and their venues because customers already familiar with the Wi-Fi CERTIFED logo on their products will easily recognize the Wi-Fi ZONE logo when entering or passing by a location. This is intended to be a clear indicator of service availability regardless of geographic area of the world - much like international symbols for access telephone services, restaurants or hospital facilities. In fact, of all of the issues that are tracked by the program, the single most common complaint is that there is not a visual indicator of service availability at the location (e.g., a sign, banner or decal).
The Wi-Fi Alliance is uniquely able to develop such a program on a global basis, as many providers are only interested in a vendor-neutral indicator of service availability. Even large providers with very strong brands have found this program to be an effective way to attract potential customers outside of their traditional geographic coverage area.