Facebook is testing a new service with some small businesses around the country to allow customers at the business to use free Internet via Wi-Fi connections after a Facebook Check-in posting their whereabouts. The router and software are supplied by Facebook while the Internet access itself is provided by the business.
The incentive for the business is two-fold. First, they get the check-in on the person’s timeline and second, on a successful login, the customer is routed to the business’ Facebook page. The ease of the setup and simple login procedure for the customer is an added bonus.
Facebook hopes to broaden this to businesses around the country to make itself the most popular way to easily access WiFi hotspots by incentivizing both businesses and the people who frequent them to use Facebook.
For developers, Facebook has added a new Social WiFi section to the Insights API where people who log in via FB at a WiFi hotspot can “like” the page they accessed through, marking it on their timeline as having been liked as a free WiFi access point. For now, the API section is not live, but Facebook indicates that after testing, they could broaden the access to the API if the routers become publicly available. They have not given a timeline or cost for the router’s (if any) availability.
The Facebook Wi-Fi system was introduced as a Hackathon project last year and appears to be gaining some legs. It’s a good idea and is something many analysts have speculated that either Facebook or Google might try as a way to both tie their and local businesses together with public WiFi access to broaden Internet access webs.
What do you think?