We love WiFi — Shanghaiists are sociable folk, and this Shanghaiist in particular has fallen into an easy Sunday routine of catching up on news and email with a cappu and sandwich at local cafés. We like having a “third space” — a local hangout where we can meet up with friends, have the occasional coffee, and wile away the hours. We’ve already mentioned a few recent faves, and celebrate the expansion of free internet across our city as evidence of an emerging café culture beyond the ubiquitous Starbucks.
Yet several recent developments have led us to wonder whether the trend will last. We learned today from Shanghai blog sushipanda that local favorite Whisk has axed its WiFi. Sushipanda (who called us “venerable Shanghai taste-makers” — he’s obviously intelligent and well-informed) put forth this reasoning for Whisk’s wireless-less state: “the behavior of visitors to camp inside for hours while purchasing slight amounts of food and drink.” Whisk confirmed that they had given up their WiFi, but said the move was the result of the effort involved in maintaining a reliable connection. A friend who visited Whisk on Monday and inquired about its offline status was told it was shut down because of technical difficulties. Hmmmm.
Whisk’s move comes on the heels of Element Fresh curtailing free wireless internet at two locations, ending it completely at Shanghai Center in favor of paid access (we believe this happened some time ago), and at K Wah Centre, nearby the old Xiangyang Market, restricting access during the busy lunch hour.
As an evil capitalistic businessman, Shanghaiist understands the need to maximize profit, especially in a competitive market like Shanghai. Café goers with laptops use lots of space but provide little revenue, buying a drink and then lingering for hours. Yet we can’t help but be disappointed — isn’t lingering what café culture is all about? — and hope this trend doesn’t spread to our other local haunts.
We assume some of your reading this are doing so from WiFi hotspots throughout Shanghai. If that is the case, please share: What are your favorite WiFi hangouts in the city?