Spotting wireless hotspots in Edinburgh

Edinburgh new town from castle, hotspots in the distance

I recently had the privilege of visiting Edinburgh, Ayr and then Culzean Castle in Ayrshire, for a stag night and wedding. Throughout a whistle stop six day trip a fair amount of the Edinburgh night life, the Scottish country side, and also wireless hotspots where sampled. In this post I share the hotspot side of this trip along with a slide show of hotspot sights.

Having built up RedButton, a Cape Town based wireless hotspot business, over the last four years, once I got to Scotland I could not help myself and found my interest in Haggis, Caledonian Ales, the Scottish Accent and people being nearly equalled by what I spotted hotspot wise en-route. But it turned out to not only be a casual interest, I was sadly affected by prevalent British Airways strikes and found myself desperately in need of a hotspot, since I needed to find a flight from Glasgow to Heathrow pronto. So I went from casual observer to desperado quite quickly, there would only be so many reasonably priced seats from Glasgow International or Glasgow Pretwick International to Heathrow and so I could not rest on my laurels and wait to the last minute to book a flight. In retrospect my desperation was a good thing in terms of experiencing being a typical wifi dependent traveller in a world city – I had been at the network operator side of things for too long.

I was surprised to find that hotspots where not everywhere to be found, as I had expected. My budget accommodation off the historic grassmarket did not have wifi, in any way, shape or form. They did have terminals where I could sit in the lobby, at 1 pound for half an hour, but I did not travel from the tip of Africa to Edinburgh to sit around in a lobby, I wanted to use my laptop in comfort, with a coffee, Haggis or Ale at hand. So I headed out to the nearest coffee shop, which oddly enough only opened at 10am, paid my rent via a cappuccino, only to find that their wifi hotspot simply did not work. I moved on to a pub later on, which also advertised free wifi, and told the barman that I first wanted to test their wifi before ordering an ale. Sadly I once again came up short, their wifi was non operational, the barman advised that I go to the hotel across from them on the grassmarket.

At this stage my battery was running low, so I headed into the new town to find a mall where I might find a plug adapter. I spotted the best free wifi advertising I had ever seen en-route, at the Burger King, and wondered whether their hotspot might work, but guessed that it would since they would probably have a professional service provider with their loud and proud advertising, rather than a DIY installation. Well Burger King was a winner, they had hundreds of seats upstairs, plugs, the works – an naturally their free wifi worked with a fast and easy process backed by a splash page that optionally asked for my demographics. I did what I needed to do flight wise, over a three pound breakfast, and could return to what I came for, experiencing the city.  I naturally also checked up on who provided their wifi, and there was no surprise when I found it to be a large scale free wifi specialist network operator.

Having secured my flight, I moved onto the trekking through the castle, and other sights, but I still had some wifi-lust left in me since I was travelling solo and also I was co-ordinating the stag night via email & SMS. The one thing I resolved to do in Edinburgh was eat Haggis. So I again settled for a pub that had wifi, this time via a WEP key, not traditional splash page which is far easier to use.

All in all, I found that Edinburgh had a fair amount of wifi, but I expected more from a capital city in the first world. I would say that wifi, and free wifi, is without a doubt more pervasive than say in Cape Town, but we are not far behind, and in certain areas of Cape Town I would say we are ahead in terms of professionally operated hotspots per square kilometer, but this is just my opinion from a very short trip, so I naturally speak under correction. The go-big-or-go-home marketing material used by Burger King was without a doubt the highlight of my trip wifi wise.

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3 thoughts on “Spotting wireless hotspots in Edinburgh

  1. This is quite interesting. You don’t happen to have any screenshots do you? Another interesting thing: With regards to our new splashpage process, I think we become the NUMBER one provide in the world with respect to this technology. We are so ahead of the curve, that now, its time for sales to do their thing 🙂

    1. I do have screenshots of the Burger King survey and welcome page. I also took screenshots of the only two commercial hotspots at one of Glasgow’s main train stations, BT OpenZone and T-Mobile. BT OpenZone was quite prevalent, I nearly used them at a Starbucks but the queue was too long for me, a nearby school had just come out and the place was packed with teens with lattes & netbooks.

  2. Good post! Good to get international feedback like this.

    Hope the trip was awesome. Will be looking forward to hearing more.

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