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Go wireless, earn cash

A new service pays you to put a wi-fi network in place. Customers may not like to be away from the Web for too long, but many restaurant owners aren’t keen on the idea of buying and installing wireless equipment to offer Web access to guests. That’s where wireless hotspot startup AnchorFree comes in. They provide a free wireless router and setup to go along with a business’s existing broadband connection. For example, if you already have DSL running into your restaurant, you’d be good to go.

There’s just one catch. In exchange, AnchorFree can run advertising around the users’ browsers. To sweeten the deal, AnchorFree shares the ad revenue with the businesses. “We offer the ability for small restaurant owners to essentially monetize their wi-fi network. There’s no cost for them at all,” says Mark Smith, executive vice president of marketing and strategy with AnchorFree. Ad revenue can vary with the amount of Web use each month, but AnchorFree typically gives about 30 percent of revenues to the restaurants.

Fred White owns two locations of Italian restaurant The Red Pepper in South Carolina. He’s been up and running with AnchorFree for a little over four months. “It’s another service that we can give to our customers while they come in and have something to eat; if they want to get some work done, they can,” says White. Part of AnchorFree’s appeal is its ability to get restaurants up and running with wireless fast. Says White, “They sent some people over and got it set up. It was very simple.”

For those concerned about free wireless access clogging up table turns, the revenue sharing is a compelling offer. “It allows restaurants to earn incremental money to help offset the cost of their DSL,” says Smith. The more your customers browse, the more ad revenue is kicked back to you.

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