Wireless access through a Wi-Fi network will soon be available at 40 Milwaukee-area Cousins Subs locations. The Menomonee Falls-based sandwich company has contracted with EthoStream LLC, Milwaukee, for wireless implementation at all of the corporate-owned stores.
Wi-Fi stands for wireless fidelity and uses a combination of a high-speed DSL Internet connection with high-frequency radio waves to create a wireless network. The Wi-Fi network will allow Cousins customers with wireless capabilities through laptops and PDAs to utilize the Internet while enjoying a sandwich.
Although the service will not fully be available until June, Cousins has offered wireless access at four test locations since mid-December, according to John Ognenoff, the information systems manager for Cousins Submarines Inc. Customers can experience the convenience of the high-speed Internet access at the Cousins locations at 307 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee; 853 N. Mayfair Rd., Wauwatosa; 2140 W. St. Paul Ave., Waukesha; and N96 W15630 County Line Rd., Germantown.
According to Ognenoff, Cousins wants to stay on the forefront of the use of technology while offering its customers something different than the competition.
"We are looking to differentiate ourselves and to draw new clientele," Ognenoff said. "We think that there are a lot of people working out of their home or without an office that could utilize the space and the Internet access. Cousins could be a place to hold meetings, meet clients, prepare for meetings, or to get out of the office but still be able to work."
Ognenoff said prime locations Cousins is targeting include the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette University campuses, and suburban area business circuits such as downtown Waukesha and downtown Brookfield.
Bob David, regional account executive for McLeodUSA, Milwaukee, which is Cousins’ current telephone service provider, said integrated access service for the Internet will be installed in all Cousins corporate locations by June.
David said McLeodUSA provides a turnkey solution through a high-speed digital Internet connection with a voice system for telephone usage. After the Internet connectivity is completed within the Cousins store, EthoStream provides a router and the wireless transmission equipment, David said.
"I think for a restaurant to be implementing this is cutting edge," David said. "I think it will become more ubiquitous as time goes on, and it will be difficult to maintain a competitive advantage for those who don’t have the service."
The wireless access is subscription-based, according to Jason Tienor, president of EthoStream. Tienor said when customers open their browser windows, a subscription and login page will appear after the computer locates the network. Currently the average subscription price through EthoStream is $4 per hour.
Ognenoff said the advantage of using EthoStream for the Wi-Fi network is that a customer’s subscription will be active at every EthoStream E-Zone location. EthoStream currently serves the hospitality industry, including Kohler, Marcus Hotels and Resorts, Comfort Inn & Suites and other property management companies, Tienor said.
Other locations are in local libraries and restaurants.
According to Tienor, not only are restaurants, retail and hospitality businesses looking to implement the service, but other local wireless access providers are aggregating to offer free services and to create hot spots around the Milwaukee area. "We currently have 100 hospitality properties with wireless access and eight hot spot locations, which we are adding rapidly," Tienor said. "People are coming to expect wireless access from any location, and from a competitive factor, businesses and properties are looking to add the amenity as soon as possible."
April 2, 2004 Small Business Times, Milwaukee