Some Travelers Want Free WiFi at SL Airport

Some Travelers Want Free WiFi at SL Airport

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Richard Piatt ReportingStaying connected comes at a price, but free wireless internet is also available at a lot of places these days, and some business travelers think Salt Lake International Airport should be one of them. You pay for wireless internet there now.

Wireless internet costs 9.95 for 24 hours. That's what you pay at most places that charge for it. But there are also a lot of places that don't charge anything, and some people think the airport should be one of those places.

Some Travelers Want Free WiFi at SL Airport

Airports are like everywhere else these days: people listen to their music, cell phones are everywhere, and laptop computers are almost as common as luggage.

Tim Hemphill: "I think the world is moving toward being able to communicate freely."

Tim Hemphill travels throughout the world with his laptop. He says many places have free wireless internet, also known as WiFi. But at Salt Lake International, connecting to the web costs $9.95.

Hemphill thinks Utah should get with the times.

Tim Hemphill, Free WiFi Advocate: "It's just a convenience thing and I think it would be good for the state of Utah to adopt a policy that's more technology friendly."

It is true, many places--most famously coffee shops--offer free WiFi service to their customers; but it's also true that many places--including Starbucks-- also charge.

Salt Lake Airport officials say Utah's not alone: 70-per cent of US airports also charge for wireless internet access, they say. For most, providing the service free is a money matter.

Barbara Gann, Salt Lake City Airport Authority: "It's an expensive service. We voted to go with a provider that now charges for it. They made a considerable infrastructure investment. They also pay to operate it and to maintain it. "

Salt Lake International now has a contract with Sprint, which is hoping to recover its 300-thousand dollar airport investment.

Hemphill admits he works for a hi-tech company, but he says it's on behalf of computer workaholics--not business--that's driving him to speak out.

We talked to Pete Ashdown of XMission today. He says he's willing to offer free WiFi service at the airport, just as XMission does in many places in Salt Lake, but for now, Sprint has the corner on this WiFi market.

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