Free Wifi is a great way to attract business and repeat customers. Many coffee shops and small store owners allow patrons to surf the Internet on their dime, in an attempt to retain customers or invite new customers inside to spend money.
What many small business owners fail to realize is often, the Wifi is a violation of the Terms of Service agreement setup by their broadband provider. Most businesses are using residential accounts and these are often limited to use by only the person or family listed on the account. Offering access to others is specifically frowned upon or explicitly illegal, depending on your provider.
One example of this can be seen in Verizon’s Terms of Service agreement which states: “You may not provide Internet access to third parties through a wired or wireless connection or use the service to facilitate public Internet access (such as through a Wi-Fi hotspot).”
According to the Center for Copyright Information, new technology will make it easier for service providers to find out who is breaking the law. In an effort to stop copyright infringement, owners will now be responsible for any material illegally downloaded or shared on their connection. This means that these companies will have to prevent their employees from pirating, and makes it impossible for coffee shops to share their WiFi with customers.