The French-style bakery and cafe installed a wireless Internet system at its New Haven location owned by University Properties last December and announced it to the public shortly after Yale students returned to campus in late January.
“Our main goal at Au Bon Pain is hospitality,” vice president of marketing Jim Fisher ’68 said.
New Haven is one of three locations where Au Bon Pain is testing the receptiveness to its wireless services. Au Bon Pain is also testing the project at locations near Brown University in Providence, R.I., and near Northeastern University in Boston.
“We’re calling this a trial because we’re all kind of curious,” said Dennis diBattista, President of QGO, a Providence-based technology firm that is running the wireless program in a partnership with DSL.net, a New Haven-based company.
Wireless technology is relatively new and has only recently been installed in various universities, restaurants and other locations. Areas on the Yale campus capable of wireless access include most of the residential college libraries, common rooms, dining halls and courtyards, as well as most of the libraries on campus and Cross Campus.
Andrea Pizziconi ’01, an analyst with University Properties, said she was pleased with the company’s decision to use New Haven to test the program.
“It’s a great service to students,” Pizziconi said. “I think students will feel really comfortable.”
Since the program is new, it remains to be seen if the wireless technology will attract more customers — especially students who have free ethernet access in their dorms — to Au Bon Pain. Fisher said Au Bon Pain would not analyze the preliminary results of the project until it had reached the two-month mark, but diBattista said he was happy with the early results.
“We track usage every day,” said diBattista. He said 20 students have used the technology since the project’s inception.
QGO is able to track usage as customers log on. When someone launches a Web browser inside the restaurant, they will automatically be directed to a sign-in Web page.
“It’s a subscription Internet service,” diBattista said. Current rates are $1.50 for 15 minutes, $3 for an hour, $6 for a day, and $30 for a month.
Ayan Kayal ’03, a computing assistant in Trumbull College, said while it was an interesting idea, he would not use the technology because of the cost.
“If you have to pay for it, I don’t really see an advantage to it,” Kayal said. “I’ll just get my stuff to go.”
But Kayal said wireless technology is becoming more popular on campus, especially as new classes of students come to Yale with newer technology.
Students who study regularly at Au Bon Pain had mixed reactions to the availability of wireless Internet access.
“I bring my laptop sometimes to do work but I wouldn’t come here just to use the Internet service,” said Linda Chhay ’06, who said she studies at Au Bon Pain every day.
“There are computers everywhere,” Chhay said. “I would go to Sterling.”
Rebecca Honig ’03 lives off campus and said she enjoys reading at Au Bon Pain between classes. While Honig herself does not own a laptop, she thinks it is a good idea.
“It’s convenient,” Honig said. “I think if I did have a laptop I would like to take advantage of their wireless services.”
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