INTERNET CAFE

History

The first online café in South Korea called Electronic Café opened in front of Hongik University in March 1988 by Ahn Sang-Su and Keum Nuri in Seoul. It had two 16bit computers connected to Online service networks through telephone lines. Online service users’ offline meetings were held in the Electronic Café, which served as a place that connected online and offline activities. The opening of the online café in Korea was 2–3 years ahead of other countries.The online café phenomenon in the United States was started in July 1991 by Wayne Gregori in San Francisco when he began SFnet Coffeehouse Network. Gregori designed, built and installed 25 coin-operated computer terminals in coffeehouses throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The café terminals dialed into a 32 line Bulletin Board System that offered an array of electronic services including FIDOnet mail and, in 1992.

Characteristics

Internet cafés are located worldwide, and many people use them when traveling to access webmail and instant messaging services to keep in touch with family and friends. Apart from travelers, in many developing countries Internet cafés are the primary form of Internet access for citizens as a shared-access model is more affordable than personal ownership of equipment and/or software. A variation on the Internet café business model is the LAN gaming center, used for multiplayer gaming. These cafés have several computer stations connected to a LAN. The connected computers are custom-assembled for gameplay, supporting popular multiplayer games. This is reducing the need for video arcades and arcade games, many of which are being closed down or merged into Internet cafés. The use of Internet cafés for multiplayer gaming is particularly popular in certain areas of Asia like India, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and the Philippines. In some countries, since practically all LAN gaming centers also offer Internet access, the terms net cafe and LAN gaming center have become interchangeable. Again, this shared-access model is more affordable than personal ownership of equipment and/or software, especially since games often require high end and expensive PCs.

Many hotels, resorts, and cruise ships offer Internet access for the convenience of their guests; this can take various forms, such as in-room wireless access, or a web browser that uses the in-room television set for its display (usually in this case the hotel provides a wireless keyboard on the assumption that the guest will use it from the bed), or computer(s) that guests can use, either in the lobby or in a business center. As with telephone service, in the US most mid-price hotels offer Internet access from a computer in the lobby to registered guests without charging an additional fee, while fancier hotels are more likely.

Internet cafés come in a wide range of styles, reflecting their location, main clientele, and sometimes, the social agenda of the proprietors. In the early days they were important in projecting the image of the Internet as a 'cool' phenomenon.

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Evolution

Internet cafés are a natural evolution of the traditional café. Cafés started as places for information exchange, and have always been used as places to read the paper, send postcards home, play traditional or electronic games, chat to friends, find out local information.As Internet access is in increasing demand, many pubs, bars and cafés have terminals, so the distinction between the Internet café and normal café is eroded. In some, particularly European countries, the number of pure Internet cafés is decreasing since more and more normal cafés offer the same services. However, there are European countries where the total number of publicly accessible terminals is also decreasing. An example of such a country is Germany. The cause of this development is a combination of complicated regulation, relatively high Internet penetration rates, the widespread use of notebooks, tablets and smartphones and the relatively high number of wireless internet hotspots.

In Asia, gaming is very popular at the Internet cafés. This popularity has helped create a strong demand and a sustainable revenue model for most Internet cafés. With growing popularity, there also comes with this a responsibility as well. In fighting for competitive market share, the Internet cafés have started charging less and hence are adopting alternate means to maximize revenue. This includes selling food, beverages, game and telephone cards to its patrons.

Legal issues

In 2003 the EasyInternetcafé chain was found liable for copyright infringement occurring when customers used its CD-burning service to burn illegally downloaded music to their own CDs.In 2005 Italy began requiring entities such as Internet cafés to collect photocopies of the passports of Internet, phone, or fax-using customers as a result of anti-terrorism legislation passed in July of that year.

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