by Christopher Calnek
Along with the very popular latte, the next time you walk into your neighborhood café you’ll probably see a public Internet terminal. According to Media Metrix, a leader in Internet market research, over 100 million Americans currently have Internet access, and 1 in 4 Americans use the Internet on a daily basis. While most users currently access the ‘net from their home or office, public use is fast increasing. Several companies have tried to create a business in providing Internet access in public places. PIX, the Public Internet eXchange, is a great example.
PIX manufactures attractive and reliable Internet “payphones.” These terminals are sleek, stainless-steel-and-glass free-standing computers that are connected to the Internet by high-speed lines. As if that weren’t enough, these units are touch screen. PIX offers consumers fast and reliable Internet access and lets them:
> Check their E-Mail
> Play games alone or in tournaments
> Check stock quotes
> Get driving or walking directions
> Find movie showtimes and buy movie tickets
> Access the Internet, and a host of other services
All this can be done from the comfort of a user’s favorite coffee shop. PIX is currently deploying its service throughout New York City. While the café customer enjoys the ability to stay connected, having a PIX unit represents many distinct advantages to the Café owner as well.
Perhaps the most important advantage that PIX offers café owners is that it provides a service that customers want. It allows them to get access to e-mail and Internet services that enhance the quality of their visit to participating stores. At the same time, the units’ modern good looks complement almost any décor, and never get in the way.
PIX helps café owners by providing them with an additional revenue stream. For café operators, having a PIX unit converts just over 3 sq. feet of floor space into pure profit. Users pay twenty cents a minute with a one-dollar minimum and while this may not seem like much, a café with healthy daily traffic can expect to make several thousand dollars a year from the machine. Users pay by credit card, pre-pay card, or even using cash in some locations.
PIX also gives café owners cutting edge technology at no cost to them. The unit itself, high-speed DSL line, service, and maintenance are all provided by PIX for free for the life of the machine. All the venue does is provide the electricity, the metered amount of which is equal to that of a coffee pot.
PIX is a service that café customers use again and again. Grabbing a cup of coffee before work or at lunch has become part of the daily routine for many consumers; checking email is fast becoming another one. PIX increases traffic to the store by about 5-10% per month. And, 35% of PIX users are repeat customers, who frequent the venue again and again. PIX says its studies show that the repeat customers increase their average monthly purchasing by about 80% as a result of their visits.

As director of sales and venue relations, Christopher Calnek has worked with the Public Internet Exchange from its inception. Recently, he has focused on expanding the network to include many of New York’s most prestigious hotels among which are the Algonquin Hotel and the New York Palace Hotel. When asked where he saw public Internet usage in the next three years and how it would affect America he responded, “Let them eat cake, drink coffee and surf the web.” Calnek’s backgound is in event-management and marketing consultancy, with an emphasis on lifestyle products. He has worked with such clients as Camel Tobacco, Moet et Chandon, and Bombay Sapphire Gin. He can be contacted at

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