Google will reportedly offer commercial grade Wi-Fi equipment at a steep discount for businesses
The search giant also plans to offer the Wi-Fi hardware and software at a heavily subsidised rate, in order to tempt businesses to offer Wi-Fi hotspots at their locations.
The news that Google plans to offer cheap Wi-Fi kit for businesses was revealed by the The Information blog, which cited a confidential report it had obtained, as well as an unnamed person who was briefed on the project.
There has been no official confirmation from the search-engine giant on the matter.
It is reported that Google’s kit could be available from this summer, and is aimed at small to medium businesses, such as restaurants, coffee shops, gyms, and even public institutions (libraries) that do not presently offer customers a Wi-Fi hotspot.
No pricing details were revealed, but Reuters reported that Google would require Wi-Fi users to use their Google account details to access the network. Controversially, this would reportedly allow Google to gather information about the customer and target advertising at them.
And Google also apparently is considering plans to share some of this data with the business owners, to allow them to track customer habits. Google already collects the location data of its customers.
If the report is true, the search engine giant will have to tread very carefully with its Wi-Fi plans, especially the data sharing element.
Google famously admitted back in 2010 that its Street View cars had been capturing and storing data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks on their route. That Wi-Fi harvest gave Google a huge stash of personal data, and led to the search engine giant facing numerous investigations, and indeed fines around the world.
The good news for users however is that W-Fi networks are spreading around the world, and not just located in businesses like coffee shops. In the UK alone, a number of cities are planning, or already offer, their own free Wi-Fi hotspots. Last November for example, a free and unlimited public Wi-Fi network went live in parts of Birmingham City centre.
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