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August 11, 2004

MY EARLIER COMMENTS on the free wi-fi at Panera Bread bring this testimonial from reader Mark Rushton:

Thanks for the tip on Panera. I found one on the Plaza in Kansas City while my wife and I are on vacation. Sure beats the $12.95 a day net access offered by the hotel, or Starbucks' weird situation ("if you're a T-mobile user you can get blah blah blah...") - and the cheese croissant was excellent.

I was there again yesterday. If the competition in this heats up (and Atlanta Bread is now also offering free wi-fi) I wonder how long those T-Mobile deals will last.

UPDATE: Reader Todd Lemmon emails:

While driving back from a business trip in Indianapolis, I needed to check email and decided to give my friend Matt in Santa Monica a call. Why? Because I was on the road on I-65 and I wanted him to do a wifinder.com search for West Lafayette for me. I was hoping a Panera would pop up since I use the Panera in Evanston (forget the Starbucks 3 doors down; they CHARGE for wi-fi!).

Sure enough, there was a Panera in town so I drive in, had a great snack and got my emails and checked out my blog line-up. There's even a Panera in Merrillville just up the road and I stopped there, too, for 90 minutes while waiting for Chicago area traffic to subside.

Panera has the model: Wi-Fi should be no different than air conditioning or Muzak, free. Why can't other places realize that they can monetize the tiny investment by offering tasty treats, coffee and other beverages?

Beats me, but I'm a Panera man, now.

The model's working!