Facebook is aggressively pursuing its goal of being completely ubiquitous. Every time it seems that they have started to plateau, they find a new spire to climb. The social network’s newest stunt is their most interesting yet, with wide-ranging implications for the future of public internet access, and for businesses social media marketing.
The project, called Facebook Wi-Fi, offers a free wireless internet and router to businesses in their area. The only catch is that when a customer goes to use the Wi-Fi, they’re stopped at a login screen. To progress to the internet, they need to check-in at the location through their Facebook account. If they want to keep their location private, they can assign the check-in’s audience setting to be “only me”.
Once the user checks in, they are dropped on the businesses Facebook page. From there, the owner of the business can add an additional layer. In the current test run, most businesses elect to add a survey that must be completed before the full internet access is granted.
Right now the Wi-Fi program is only available in the area near Facebook HQ, but if the testing goes well, it will soon be available nationwide.
This program could prove to be a welcome addition to the landscape, for both the businesses and the customers. Customers get the Wi-Fi at no cost, just the short hassle of dealing with some advertisements. Businesses get a free way to provide Wi-Fi, a commodity that is expected more every day. Additionally, businesses get the benefit of every one of the customers Facebook friends seeing their name on the wall.
Again, it’s still in the test phase, but if Facebook decides to roll it out on a larger scale, it could have a lasting impact on the way we connect to the internet while we’re out in the world.