By Claus Hetting, CEO & Chairman, Wi-Fi NOW
This week Facebook launched it’s ‘Find Wi-Fi’ feature on iOS and Android devices globally. The company announced the launch in this blog. ‘Find Wi-Fi’ will allow billions of Facebook users to locate their nearest Facebook hotspot. And it will help especially small businesses in attracting more visitors to their venues.
The company says that the listings will be ‘nearby hotspots that businesses have shared with Facebook from their [Facebook] Page’. We don’t know what the number of global Facebook-shared Wi-Fi hotspots is but it is likely only a small percentage of the tens or hundreds of millions of public Wi-Fi hotspots around the world – at least for now.
Still the feature may be an excellent incentive for more businesses to sign up for the ‘Facebook Wi-Fi’ program for business owners. Businesses can sign up for this (as far as we know) for free and visitors at the Wi-Fi-enabled venues can then access the network by logging on with his or her regular Facebook credentials. It’s a simple and powerful Internet access extension of Facebook’s booming social media advertising business.
This form of social media Wi-Fi logon is in essence the same as what’s offered today by a growing list of smaller social media Wi-Fi companies, including Purple, Zenreach, Cloud4Wi, and others – although in fairness, it must be said that the mentioned companies also offer a wide range of additional features.
According to the Facebook Wi-Fi website the company has already partnered with a long list of enterprise Wi-Fi hardware providers, including Ruckus, Cisco, OpenMesh, and even with some consumer-grade OEMs including D-Link, Netgear, and ASUS.
The service – including the value proposition for small businesses in particular – should be very attractive in emerging markets such as Asia and Latin America, where wireless data is often scarce or expensive or both.