Google's Free Airport Wi-Fi: Techno-Heroin?

Try it for free ... right up until you can’t give it up.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

I'm conflicted about Google's announcement today that it will subsidize free wireless network access in 47 airports from now until January 15—and indefinitely in the airports of Burbank, Calif., and Seattle.

The promotion, in cooperation with Boingo Wireless, Advanced Wireless Group, and Airport Marketing Income, is the latest effort to use free Wi-Fi to boost a brand. Among others: Yahoo is sponsoring Wi-Fi in Times Square in New York, and Google is sponsoring Internet access on Virgin America flights during the holidays.

It's a great holiday gift, don't get me wrong. I'm one of those frequent travelers who hates long layovers with my laptop. I'm stuck killing time between flights only to encounter the deal-breaker of a $5.00 or $10.00 charge when I try to logon at an airport.

But such offers are nothing more than disguised techno-heroin to try to get us addicted to yet another mode of communication. We use it for free for several months, get addicted and then sign up for wi-fi service when it ends.

I bought a Ford Escape Hybrid this spring, which came with six months of Sirius satellite radio. I swore up and down I wouldn't become addicted to it. Lo and behold, the six months were up this month, and I signed on for another year. Darn me!!!

But I promise this Christmas lure from Google won't get me. Or at least I hope it won't.