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Free Wi-Fi Coming To Japanese Vending Machines

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the exact-change-only dept.

Communications 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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Excellent Idea (4, Interesting)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Excellent Idea (4, Funny)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#38522800)

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. ;)

Re:Excellent Idea (2)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#38522980)

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".

Re:Excellent Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38523064)

I think our perception of modern japanese culture needs an overhaul, because I originally thought of the same thing.

Re:Excellent Idea (2)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523214)


You're acting like I am making that shit up. There are dirty panty vending machines right now having money inserted in as we speak.

The Japanese are freaks. Give the Germans a run for their money.

Before anybody gets all butthurt, I say it with the utmost admiration and respect. The Japanese can be pretty damn serious and prurient at times which is paradoxical, but boy, when they decide to get funky and party, they get funky and partaaaay.

Re:Excellent Idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38523464)

Not at all. I thought it was funny, the first thing we (by which I meant me too) think of when you put "Japan" and "vending machines" in the same sentence is used underwear machines... as if they've never even seen a Coke machine among all the perverse dispensing devices.

Re:Excellent Idea (2)

slyrat (1143997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38524816)


You're acting like I am making that shit up. There are dirty panty vending machines right now having money inserted in as we speak.

The Japanese are freaks.

This really isn't quite true anymore. It may have been true at one time but it isn't at this point, at least in a legal way. Last time I was there (studied abroad for 6 weeks) I asked about it and did actually look around for any kind of vending machine that had such a product. I was told that there was a law regarding used products that was used to prevent the used panty machines from showing up. I did find a claw machine that had small plastic balls that had new women's panties in them. I suppose if you looked long enough you might find ones that had used, but it would have to be in a shady area. Just thought I would clear that up, or at least clear it up as far as I know. Here is a link to website with some info: used panty info []

Re:Excellent Idea (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523172)

It's called market research. :D

Re:Excellent Idea (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523016)

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

Re:Excellent Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38523440)

The best part is that you could then write an app to locate Pepsi machines by wifi strength. Even more free marketing. And darn convenient if you are looking for a vending machine.

Re:Excellent Idea (2)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38524036)

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

Re:Excellent Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38522912)

The only downside is that Wi-Fi is so easily saturated. Almost any public/open Wi-Fi network will have 1-2 people slurping up all the bandwidth unless the owner is smart and does QoS/throttling. To boot, if you want QoS in your router so other people than the first bandwidth hog can do anything, you will be going to Cisco, and Cisco will be charging you a fair amount for this.

Cisco and Linksys (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38522950)

if you want QoS in your router so other people than the first bandwidth hog can do anything, you will be going to Cisco

True, but doesn't Cisco still make Linksys products that can be flashed with custom firmware supporting QOS such as DD-WRT?

Re:Cisco and Linksys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38523264)

Not anymore.

Re:Excellent Idea (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523012)

They won't slurp it all for long if the power is low enough that you have to stand near the machine to get a signal (no chairs, no power sockets). I assume this is a ploy to get people to at least see and be tempted by the machine's product and not for someone 100 meters away who doesn't even realize the open network he's found is from a vending machine.

Re:Excellent Idea (2)

anubi (640541) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523306)

Being its common to have vending machines on the internet anyway so they can report their status, it does indeed make a lot of sense to make the otherwise unutilized bandwidth available to nearby people.

It will encourage them to loiter near the machine.

Eventually, the urge to enjoy one of the vendor's products will likely be met by the same machine.

Nobody said it had to be super bandwidth... for a lot of stuff, enough to get email or browse Slashdot is fine.

This is the kind of stuff that I am glad to see on Slashdot.

Re:Excellent Idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38522930)

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.

Re:Excellent Idea (4, Funny)

DMoylan (65079) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

tilt all data lost (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38522958)

tilt all data lost

Re:Excellent Idea (2)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523022)

We all knew that the machines would take charge sooner or later. None of us could imagine that it would come in the form of vending machines dispensing human treats.

Re:Excellent Idea (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523144)

the coin-operated carbonated caffeine dispenser has ruled me for over 40 years.

Re:Excellent Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38522964)

My fear is that knowing the "added monetization" of businesses, we will see the vending machine Wi-Fi come with a Phorm-like ad injector, where we have to click on the cola beverage and stuff it down a teddy bear's mouth every 5 minutes in order to continue using the Wi-Fi.

Re:Excellent Idea (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523160)

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.

Re:Excellent Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38535330)

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

I agree. Push-based advertising needs to die out. (fat chance of that happening.... :P )

It's unnecessary. Use Pull-based advertising instead:

One's five senses

Phone book / telephone

Internet search engine / commercial websites

Word of mouth (best form of advertising there is :) )

Re:Excellent Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38523806)

Throw in User Agent detection and a few rootkits and that should ... oh well that's just paranoid...

There are no excellent ideas any more just greed in disguise.

Re:Excellent Idea (1)

cthulhu11 (842924) | more than 2 years ago | (#38536386)

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 don't work properly, or subsequent proxying / filtering breaks a significant fraction of uses. I wasted about 20 minutes at SFO before I gave up and just used my 3G-equipped phone instead, and gave up on Tully's hopelessly-broken setup years ago.

Ohhhh! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38522738)

First comment????? Hope to see free Wi-Fi all over the world before its end!!!

Re:Ohhhh! (0)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523300)


Not enough free wifi hotspots (1)

AverageWindowsUser (2537474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38522796)

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.

Re:Not enough free wifi hotspots (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#38526412)

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.

Free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38522804)

Shoot, I think you should have to buy a drink. Why not?

We were starting to run out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38522820)

Oh, wow, that's a relief. Here I thought we were starting to run short on potential points from which open spam relays and botnet commands can be reliably run and be even harder to trace. Thanks, Japan! The feds were starting to catch on to the last few places I could run all that from!

Re:We were starting to run out (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38522828)

What are you talking about? My botnet business is thriving, not like SOPA or any related government efforts are hindering it or free open wifi will make it easier.

At least (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | more than 2 years ago | (#38522888)

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 necessary free service takes that long to be implemented, not only in Japan but in most of countries I'm visiting. This is where we would have expected Google or MS (to improve their image) to be more pro-active.

Original Verge article (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38522954)

Here [] is the original Verge article that the submitted link is based on. Looks like Gizmag literally just took the Verge's information and reworded it to avoid plagiarism, but it's all the exact same information and about the same length. Even the photo is the same, just slightly cropped to look different.

Free wifi or Japanese "free" wifi? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Free wifi or Japanese "free" wifi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38523370)

True, but while I haven't actually used this particular service by a brewery/soft drink company yet, there already are a real free Wifi service called Freespot - no registeration or log-in required - and many of connecting points seem to be provided by vending machines at parking lots, too.
So this can be the same or similar one...

Re:Free wifi or Japanese "free" wifi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38523588)

Well, I tried this.
I had to agree the Term of Service and click a log in icon but that was all. But... It's cold outside!

Bitcoins... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38523004)

This would be useful for Bitcoins.


Phone booths (4, Interesting)

arose (644256) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Phone booths (1)

Pax681 (1002592) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523366)

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.

Re:Phone booths (1)

arose (644256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523480)

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.

Re:Phone booths (1)

karuna (187401) | more than 2 years ago | (#38524218)

I don't think that these 1 Ls ($2) cards are available anymore.

Re:Phone booths (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523556)

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 phone booths/public phones because (I'm told) of vandalism and because mostly everyone has a mobile anyways. Kudos to Latvia for managing to keep the public payphone infrastructure in place in spite of the onslaught of mobile phones.

Re:Phone booths (1)

karuna (187401) | more than 2 years ago | (#38524156)

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 plans that can be used in coffee shops, gas stations and other establishments. But the price is no longer that cheap. Now it is $4 per day and $10 per month.

Love it! (2)

FrankSchwab (675585) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523106)

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.

Re:Love it! (2)

Gwala (309968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523262)

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

Re:Love it! (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38524278)

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.

Vending machines in Japan (3, Informative)

0olong (876791) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Vending machines in Japan (1)

nojayuk (567177) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523886)

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.

Great idea (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523146)

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!

Re:Great idea (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523734)

Excellent. It'll free up those phone booths for my use.

- Superman

Press release here (0)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523156)

About time! (1)

mehu (92260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523198)

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 11-car train on the Yamanote [] during rush hour has 2-4000 people crammed inside). I'm just worried that these access points are going to become just as quickly saturated and as slow as the cell network. Not to mention that by the time you connect to the wifi point, the train's probably already moving away from the station. -_-;

Isn't this need slowly disappearing? (1, Interesting)

froggymana (1896008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523266)

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/more consistent.

Re:Isn't this need slowly disappearing? (4, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523308)

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

Re:Isn't this need slowly disappearing? (1)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523560)

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) why would I use my precious measured 3G bandwidth (typical offering in Canada with Bell or Rogers would get you 500mb/data per month on a $50 plan). It seems Shaw is offering this to keep market share and I suppose bring in customers from their competitors. Shaw has announced in various news articles that they expect the costs to be around $200 million. This is the same Shaw who bought cellular bandwidth for about the same $200 million and have yet to use it.

Time will tell how this pans out.

Re:Isn't this need slowly disappearing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38523334)

> Why would I need to connect to a wifi hotspot when I have 3G/4G cellular service on my phone?

wifi is for important stuff like gaming, blogging and youtube..

you don't need wifi to impress me how smart your telephone is... i'll just agree anyways...

Re:Isn't this need slowly disappearing? (1)

Jaro (4361) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523624)

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.

Re:Isn't this need slowly disappearing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38523628)

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)

Re:Isn't this need slowly disappearing? (1)

k-macjapan (1271084) | more than 2 years ago | (#38530182)

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.

Re:Isn't this need slowly disappearing? (1)

tommy8 (2434564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38528218)

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 you happen go somewhere that has zero wifi coverage you could get a pay-by-the-minute or pay-by-the-day cheap cell service.

Brought to you from the power of the atom! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38523364)

Nuclear power stations yay!.. cheap energy for all.

Used panty ads! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38523534)

Redirect users to some of Japan's finest porn to stimulate demand for the used panty vending machines. Everybody wins!

"from the exact-change-only dept"?! (1)

adnonsense (826530) | more than 2 years ago | (#38523730)

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.

hrm - in China.... (2)

dwater (72834) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:hrm - in China.... (1)

rdebath (884132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38524476)

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 maintenance solution to this problem so they're trying to exclude people who make a nuisance of themselves by limiting the people that can connect to 'good customers'.

In reality they don't care how it works, they just don't want it to become a source of complaints. That's why, IMO, the correct solution is a "traffic shaping" WiFi router. So that every host (within range) gets a "fair share" of the bandwidth, if someone starts up a bittorrent their connectivity may go down the toilet but everyone else will still be running fine; ie if there are 5 people trying to download at one moment (one of them using bittorrent) they still all get one fifth of the connection. What's more such a router can put other other simple limitations on, eg: port 80 (http) gets more bandwidth other ports.

The reason I think this is a reasonable solution is that the tools are already implemented in Linux, the OS that already runs many of these WiFi routers. All that's needed is for this facility to be exposed in the web interface of the router and turned on.

Re:hrm - in China.... (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 2 years ago | (#38524834)

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 is, when you have always on connection via cellular data. For visitors, it would be very valuable; also in places where cellular data is 'spotty' as someone else suggested in a previous post.

Great idea (2)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#38524132)

I'll be able to surf the web when I buy my sex cup and schoolgirl panties.

Prior art with PHS (1)

Bushcat (615449) | more than 2 years ago | (#38524174)

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.

Re:Prior art with PHS (1)

shish (588640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38524734)

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!

Mobile hotspot? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 2 years ago | (#38524792)

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

Stupid idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38524940)

I know they have amazing toilets, but what will the vending machines do with their wifi? And if the machines aren't willing to pay for it today, does anyone really think it will matter if they're getting wifi for free?

What a clever advertisement (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525208)

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

Fantastic Idea (1)

Jamel Toms (2541304) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525762)

This is a fantastic idea. This kind of creativity it is what churns successful economies.

I've seen something like this before (1)

sidthegeek (626567) | more than 2 years ago | (#38526062)

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.

Not sure this is a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38526710)

At first all I could think of was "God bless the Japanese", but when people can't get to the vending machine because of all the wifi campers sitting next to the machine then this will end pretty quickly.

Just coincidental... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38605204)

There are a number of reasons why this push is being made that have nothing to do with improving "free" wifi in Japan.

1. Hardware refresh cycles; many vending machine operators are in the midst of upgrading their machines to accept NFC/Felica contactless touch electronic payment, especially since Felica/SUICA have defacto won the e-money wars. A necessary evil of that is a cellular modem to connect to the backend payment processing network. This is readily visible in early generation machines that have a small black blade antenna squeezed into the product viewing area on the front face of the machine (to protect it from vandalism)

2. Disaster recovery; the big earthquake in Japan sorely reminded people that the government sucks, and information networks can help disseminate information faster. There have been pushes by a number of companies with substantial retail presence that people frequented post-disaster to provide wifi services, with the ultimate aim of providing better communications support (and taking some of the transmission load off the cellular network). 7-11 convenience stores just rolled out "free" wifi service riding on the coattails of their internal network infrastructure connecting their store POS systems. Unfortunately, people have this false belief that the internet will survive anything, when in fact the recent disaster was comparatively mild for the Tokyo area, as not that much communications infrastructure was directly damaged. When a real rumbler hits and takes out all that last mile fiber optic and ADSL infrastructure, that's when people will be pimpslapped with the hard reality that nobody was really paying attention to WHY the internet was still working last march.

The smart thing is an interoperable wifi mesh network with active local exit gateways onto the greater internet where available (assuming sufficient line of sight density for outdoor vending machines). Based on the press release of pushing for a single year rollout of 1000-2000 machines, each with roughly a capacity for 12 simultaneous wireless device connections, something is a little odd. Either these are going to be vending machines located in areas with telephone line access (for ADSL), or possibly they are going to use LTE based wireless gateway routers. Also, it sounds like they might be doing ad injection using a local proxy (or at the ISP provider level since Asahi also is an internet provider/ISP), so keep those VPN tunnels handy. At least isn't Phorm...

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