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Communications Japan Wireless Networking Technology

Free Wi-Fi Coming To Japanese Vending Machines 81

cylonlover writes "Free Wi-Fi is on its way to some Japanese vending machines. Working much like a mobile hotspot at your local coffee shop, people located near the machines would be able to connect to the internet for 30 minutes at a time and surf the web. The service is available to anyone, to use with any smartphone, tablet, or computer and does not require the purchase of a drink from the machine."
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Free Wi-Fi Coming To Japanese Vending Machines

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  • Excellent Idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by InterestingFella ( 2537066 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:06AM (#38522732)
    Wi-Fi coverage is hindered by the fact that people have tried to explicitly set up Wi-Fi networks. This only makes it economical if users are charged for access and even then limits the availability to highly populated areas. But there's vending machines in many places - just throw in Wi-Fi hotspot in them and eventually you will get huge coverage and the costs are subsidized in the vending machine buying/renting price. If you need to make money on top of that, throwing in an ad or two should do the trick and keep the service free for anyone.
    • by SomePgmr ( 2021234 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:19AM (#38522800) Homepage

      If you need to make money on top of that, throwing in an ad or two should do the trick and keep the service free for anyone.

      The required proximity, ToS page and an SSID of "PEPSICOLA" for the AP in the Pepsi machine should do it. ;)

      • by EdIII ( 1114411 )

        I would think the commodity cost would subsidize it quite well, but at what cost to the community?

        Can you imagine free wifi in dirty panty vending machines? I'm not sure just what might happen exactly, but it is going to be "interesting".

        • by Khyber ( 864651 )

          It's called market research. :D

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        We're talking japanese vending machines, so "usedpanties" and "adultvideosforthenight" would be the more obvious choices!

      • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

        This domain has been seized by ICE - Homeland Security Investigations...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Anyone who has spent time in Japan read this as "Free wifi in Japan" every back alley in the middle of no where has at least two vending machines... It's nuts.

    • by DMoylan ( 65079 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:46AM (#38522932)

      screw that. it could reduce the repair costs on vending machines when if the machine is attacked for swallowing money it turns off the wifi (a pinball tilt switch should do). angry nerds will rush to defend the vending machine to get their wifi back.

    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

      If you need to make money on top of that, throwing in an ad or two should do the trick and keep the service free for anyone.

      Ads aren't free. They cost money for the company who places the ad, who then passes the cost on to every one of its customers, with huge amounts of money bled off by the ad middle-men. It's basically an "advertising tax". Currently it works out at about $1000 per head in the US ($300bil total advertising, 300mil population).

      I'd much rather spend $1000/year how I want it, rather than on having unwanted ads thrust into my face.

    • A WiFi network that isn't connected upstream is of rather limited utility -- "huge coverage" entails a lot more than just stuffing a WAP into each Coke machine. Upstream connectivity, handling a dozen of these within feet of each other competing for channels, etc. I rarely bother with "free wifi" -- too many hassles. Almost always such networks don't "just work"; one has to fire up a web browser to get some acceptable-use policy page before packets will be routed, and a fair percentage of the time these
  • Shouldn't all wifi hotspots be free? I used to go to starbucks with my laptop and my sprint 4g overdrive and give everyone free access. Paying starbucks for a few minutes of wireless use is insane, plus they have not only your personal information but your billing information as well so they have your address and everything plus your surfing history.
    • Yes, they should be all free. Maybe add some data caps per session to avoid the worst leeches. Then again, 3G price and coverage is getting pretty good these days, which might render public WiFi a bit useless.
  • We all know that sooner or later wi-fi (or the new protocol at the time) will be available everywhere for free. The sooner the better.
    I'm glad such a service is being made available in Japan.
    Right now, you can either
    - subscribe to a monthly 3G like service and use a small device that acts as a wi-fi server (~4000JPY a month)
    - use, for instance, some wi-fi spots in some malls and coffee shops that work only for a given carrier (eg useable only with a SoftBank iPhone)

    I'm just surprised that such a neces
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2011 @01:05AM (#38522990)
    There's a ton of "free" wifi services available in Japan, where "free" means that if you're subscribed to some service you pay for (mobile phone, home internet and what not) and are getting the wifi as a "free" add-on in the package. So, one can see tons of hotspots everywhere, but if trying to use any those requires an ID (or, very rarely, some payment). Somehow I think this will turn out to be one of those services, and not the really free free wi-fi.
  • Phone booths (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arose ( 644256 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @01:13AM (#38523028)
    The former telco monopoly in Latvia uses phone-booths. It's just about the perfect solution to both wi-fi coverage and public phone disuse, I'm surprised I haven't seen it anywhere else.
    • by Pax681 ( 1002592 )

      The former telco monopoly in Latvia uses phone-booths. It's just about the perfect solution to both wi-fi coverage and public phone disuse, I'm surprised I haven't seen it anywhere else.

      we have that in Scotland and i suppose the rest of the UK too.
      a shed load of BT(british telecom) public phone boxes are wifi hotpots. however there is , as stated above some strings
      they are bundled with a british telecom or any of their partners packages and a lot of the less technically adept BT DSL subscribers are inwittingly letting other people use their wifi via the BT Fon wifi setting in the BT homehub router.

      • by arose ( 644256 )
        Latvian ones are paid, but don't come with any strings. Send a $2 SMS, get 24 hours (usage, not from time of purchase, and it doesn't seem to expire even over a year) of net.
    • by siddesu ( 698447 )

      In Japan, public payphones (with or without booths) have all but disappeared in the past 15 years. It seems that since everyone has a cellphone, nobody uses the public payphones anymore and it is too expensive to maintain. There are some public payphones/booths still at airports and large stations, but they are few and far between.

      Also, it seems this is not only a Japanese phenomenon. I visit several Eastern European countries regularly, and the situation there is similar to Japan. There are very few phon

      • by karuna ( 187401 )

        Sorry to disappoint you but Latvian payphones are disappearing too. There is no real need for them as even tourists can use cell phones. In fact, Latvia has very cheap prepaid plans. One can buy a SIM card for $2 practically from every newspaper stand and use that for calls and data. 3G coverage is practically everywhere and while it is not Wi-Fi speed, it is enough for all practical purposes of mobile use. You can use tethering as well. Or simply use 3G stick (modem).

        Lattelecom still sells Wi-Fi access pla

  • by FrankSchwab ( 675585 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @01:30AM (#38523106) Journal

    Having just come back from a business trip to Tokyo, where as far as I could tell the concept of "public wi-fi" was non-existent, the ability to drop 100 yen into a public vending machine and hit the net would have been great.

    • by Gwala ( 309968 )

      That's because Mobile Internet is half-decent in most places in Japan. You don't bother with public WiFi.

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )
      Yeah, I should be going to Nagoya for a couple days in a few months. Hopefully this will be up and running by the time I go.
  • by 0olong ( 876791 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @01:37AM (#38523140)
    The significance of this development is probably not obvious unless you have ever been to Japan. Vending machines there are absolutely everywhere. Whether you're in the city, some suburb outskirt, a picturesque country side village, or even halfway up some random mountain, the nearest roadside vending machine is rarely more than a few stone throws away.

    Since Asahi is one of the big players in the market, this could be made into a huge WiFi mesh.
    • by nojayuk ( 567177 )
      Back in the summer some pictures came out of the camp being built near Fukushima Daiichi to house the people working there. I knew things weren't as bad as some of the doomsayers were claiming when I saw an Asahi vending machine installed beside one of the dormitory buildings.
  • I too think it is a good idea. I seem to remember several years ago Verizon putting Wi-fi acces points in their pa phone booths, but they were free only to Vreizon customers.. and there are no phone booths anymore!

    Weird .. I submitted this story earlier [] and it disappeared form the Recent page. I was going for 3 for 3 for my subs, but I guess thats a bust! No hard feelings though!
  • Ever since the iPhone launched here (particularly since the 4), network signal has been extremely poor in busy areas, due to overcongestion. Every time I hit a major train station, my phone struggles to regain its signal, and it's impossible to load anything, due to the sheer number of devices being used, since practically every single one of the thousands of commuters waiting on & off the train are using their phones at the same time ( Shinjuku station [] alone has >3.5M passengers per day, and a single

  • Why would I need to connect to a wifi hotspot when I have 3G/4G cellular service on my phone? The need for more and more public wifi hotspots is definitely going down as more and more people get smartphones/cellular dongles. Personally I often prefer using my phone's 3G in the city since I don't need to worry about having an unsecured connection to a random router that may be running a transparent proxy collecting my data, I don't need to open my web browser to agree to their terms and it is often faster/mo

    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @02:25AM (#38523308)

      Why would I need to have an expensive overcrowded spotty 3/4G coverage when there are hotspots every block?

      • I agree. Shaw in Canada is starting to offer wifi in a variety of western Canadian cities (see for more information).

        Providing that you have shaw home service (1.8 million customers compared to 1.3 million customers for their largest competitor Telus) you will be able to log onto to their wifi with no additional charges. Shaw offer internet to 50% of the homes they pass.

        With Shaw offering up 100mb/sec connections in my local malls (or what ever high population locations these exist in) wh
    • by Jaro ( 4361 )

      My mobile data plan is limited to 500 MB/month so I'm happy to be able to use a wifi when one is around. Also this is great for people traveling from other countries who do not have a local mobile data plan.

      I think this is a great idea.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As someone living in Tokyo, I can tell you that relying on just 3G/4G is _NOT_ going to give a good user experience, especially not in the areas where the hotspots are likely to be plentiful.

      Not saying that the coverage isn't good, it's rather excellent considering the number of people around places like Shinjuku, Shibuya and Tokyo station. Just not something you'd use for watching youtube or anything. (Though listening to music streams usually works nicely for 64kbps)

      • As another person living in Tokyo, I can say that I've rarely if ever had issues with the performance of 3G/4G in the Tokyo area.

        Granted, if you venture outside of the metropolis you'll likely run into speed decreases.

    • by tommy8 ( 2434564 )
      If wifi is virtually everywhere why would I want to pay 100 bucks or more a month for cell service when I can buy an unlocked, no contract cell phone and use wifi with voip to do all my data and talking needs. If you are using pubic wifi and worried about security (it is a legitimate worry) you can pay for a vpn service or even set up your own openvpn server on your home network (some routers and 3rd party firmware support vpn). I'm not sure how much voip calling would be affected by vpn though. Lastly if
  • Clearly samzenpus has never had the pleasure of using a Japanese vending machine, which 99.99% of the time Just Workâ. Some even happily accept 10,000 yen notes (roughly equivalent to US$100) and give you the correct change.

  • by dwater ( 72834 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @04:45AM (#38523840)

    I don't much like using wifi, and think it'll generally die out in favour of cellular data. However, when visiting foreign places, where my cellular data is super expensive or otherwise impractical (eg Beijing), I do appreciate the many free wifi hotspots available (Starbucks, for example).

    A few years ago, the wifi hotspots were all open and so I didn't need to enter any password/etc. These days there seems to be a shift towards having passwords. For Starbucks, for example, it is usually just the store's phone number, which is easy enough. For McDonald's though, the network is open but accessing a web page results in a redirection to a landing page where you have to enter a phone number, to which a username/password is sent which is then used on the web site to open up the network. This latter scheme really sucks - obviously, you need a phone and if you log onto the network but don't go through the procedure, the network is still added to the list of networks to join (at least on all the phones I've used) and I have to go to the effort of deleting it - that's really annoying.

    Personally, I think this is a great opportunity for NFC. Current uses I've seen for NFC are making the authorisation of bluetooth exchanges easier; but I think the same principal could be used for wifi SSID/password transfers. Those NFC stickers are very cheap and could be placed very near the checkout so you can just access them when you buy...which is the objective for most places anyway.

    Sure, NFC isn't so prolific just yet, but you could do something similar with QR codes, I guess....just needs an app. Hrm, seems like something I could knock up...and I might just do that.

    • by rdebath ( 884132 )

      I don't see either WiFI or Cellular dying out in favour of the other for a long time. Mainly because physically the technologies are so similar to each other that they feed off each other so any advancement in one can usually be applied to the other.

      The problem you are seeing is that the WiFi is being used as a "freeish" service. They tried doing it as a free service; but as soon as somebody hit them with a bittorrent (or similar) the performance went into the toilet for everyone else. They needed a zero

      • by dwater ( 72834 )

        Well, I don't think wifi in general will die out, but just as a way of being connected via phone. I reach this conclusion based on my own usage. I have wifi at home, and at work, but I also have an unlimited celular data plan, and I basically keep it on cellular 'all the time'. The only times I use wifi on my phone are when I have to download something heavy-weight (or, like I mentioned, I don't have the cellular data).

        I guess wifi via many hotspots might work ok, but I just don't see too much point - that

  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @06:13AM (#38524132)
    I'll be able to surf the web when I buy my sex cup and schoolgirl panties.
  • This approach has been used before in Japan: PHS ("handy phone") cells were placed on vending machines when the system was rolled out. I (mis)remember that the partner was a couple of Coca Cola franchises, which of course have thousands of vending machines dotted around. The benefits are ubiquity, guaranteed good power to the machine, no hassles about getting space on utility poles, etc. and regular visits from someone who can check the blinkenlights are blinken.
    • by shish ( 588640 )

      in Japan: PHS ("handy phone")

      It's been nearly 15 years, and at last I have an answer to WTF that unexplained option on the FFVII menu screen was about. Thank you so much!

  • Last time I checked, vending machines aren't particularly portable, so I'm not sure why it's being called a "mobile hotspot."

  • Hang out in front of our vending machine as long as you like! Free internet!

  • This is a fantastic idea. This kind of creativity it is what churns successful economies.
  • Around 2004--2006, I used to see numerous ads on TV for public telekiosks. They were basically a payphone, a Web terminal and a WiFi access point rolled into one. They were marketing toward business owners in high-traffic areas. I think the concept ultimately fizzled because portable consumer technology got more advanced, but this kinda reminds me of those telekiosks.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford