Free WiFi at Best Buy

Last Friday, I did my yearly social duty and visited my CPA in Manhattan to do the dreaded taxes deed, and to assuage my aching heart and walloped wallet, I always first visit Circuit City on the corner of 14th Street and 4th Avenue in Union Square to put my hands on all the latest technology.  Unfortunately, Circuit City is now kaput — but I was pleasantly pleased to see a Best Buy store in the same Circuit City spot.

The Union Square Best Buy is fantastic.  It’s bigger — if that’s possible — and the store is super clean.

Best Buy was, of course, selling computers, cellphones, televisions — and Fender and Epiphone guitars! — and there was the famous Geek Squad fixing stuff in the back of the store.

The biggest Best Buy surprise happened when I pulled out my iPhone 3GS to check my email and I was met with a request to join the Best Buy WiFi network.

Free WiFi at Best Buy?  Could it be?

I fired up my iPhone System Settings and, sure enough, there was an unlocked WiFi network called “BestBuyCustomerWiFI” and the signal was strong.

I decided to join the Best Buy WiFi network.

Safari automagically opened and presented this Best Buy Login screen for their free WiFi service.  I touched the “Go Online” button with my finger, and I was flying on their network!

I fired up the SpeedTest.net iPhone App to see what kind of upload and download speeds I was getting on the Best Buy WiFi network.  5269kbps down and 9215kbps up?  Wowser!  When can I move in and where do I sleep?

I couldn’t get an at&t 3G SpeedTest in NYC at the Best Buy store.  The ping kept timing out.

For comparison with the free Best Buy WiFi, here are my at&t 3G results from Jersey City:  A pretty decent 1380kbps down and a horrible 41kbps up.

For a more direct comparison with Best Buy WiFi speeds, here are the results of my home WiFi setup — using a Comcast Cable Modem an an Apple AirPort Extreme Router — indicating 1134kbps down and 4411kbps up.  Usually the results are more evenly split between up and down, but we all know the iPhone 3GS is temperamental when it comes to creating and keeping a reliable WiFi connection.

If you have a Best Buy in your area, you should visit the store with a WiFi enabled device and do some testing of your own to see how good your Best Buy WiFi speeds are compared to mine in Union Square.

Not all Best Buys offer free WiFi — but for those that do — you have to admire their effort to please their customers by creating a seamless and effortless opportunity to speed along the invisible internet on their dime.

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