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Greggs Has The Best Free Wi-Fi On The High Street

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Use free Wi-Fi to get some work done on the go? More and more retailers, banks and restaurants are offering connectivity

Greggs offers the best free quality Wi-Fi of any major retailer on the high street, according to a new report, which says businesses of all types have followed the lead of coffee shops in offering wireless connectivity to customers.

Devicescape analysed data from 100,000 smartphones connected to its ‘curated virtual network’ (CVN) which comprises more than 20 million hotspots worldwide and 215,000 in the UK which meet certain quality standards. The 40 most used retailers and restaurants were assessed in the report.

M&S, Boots, Pizza Express and Asda compose the rest of the top five, with retail and fast food the best sectors for Wi-Fi quality. Natwest has the best Wi-Fi of any bank, while Caffe Nero has the best in the pioneering coffee shop sector.

High ca-pasty Wi-Fi

The Cloud Mastercard Wi-Fi Credit: Professional Images“The real takeaway here is not that Greggs has better Wi-Fi than the next brand but that the quality of high street Wi-Fi in the UK is really very good across the board,” said Mike Hibberd, Director of Marketing, Devicescape. “At the very least the connectivity offered by the brands we’ve listed, and many more we have not, is good enough to stream video to a smartphone.

“All of the brands featured in our study, and many more besides, should be saluted for offering quality, free Wi-Fi to their customers, particularly when you consider how difficult it can sometimes be to get the best from your cellular data connection in these locations. And we should not overlook the fact that the same kind of connectivity is offered by numerous smaller or independent brands.”

However not all hotspots are easily accessible, with some firms such as KFC, Caffe Nero and M&S requiring more steps to get online, such as providing personal details, than others like Barclays, John Lewis and Patisserie Valerie.

When adjusted for ease of access, Boots and Asda overtake Greggs and M&S as offering the best Wi-Fi.

“Of course brands want to take every opportunity to gather customer data,” added Hibberd. “But it seems counter-intuitive to provide a great service like free Wi-Fi and then make it difficult to access. The best time to interact with a customer over Wi-Fi is when they are already happily connected, rather than while they are trying to establish a connection, which can be very frustrating.”

Whenever Devicescape detects a new hotspot, it is assessed for quality of experience, availability and seamless authentication. If the access point meets Devicescape’s standards, it is added to the CVN.

Mobile operator partners, including Virgin Media in the UK, can offload cellular traffic onto the CVN to improve coverage and ease strain on 3G and 4G networks in areas of high demand. Devicescape has also agreed a partnership with BandwidthX, allowing mobile operators to buy additional capacity on demand.

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