Facebook trials free WiFi for check-ins service

Facebook is trialling a system that would allow businesses to offer customers free WiFi in exchange for checking in on their profiles.

The social networking company has provided local businesses in Silicon Valley with specialised WiFi routers. To access the Internet, customers log on to the WiFi network and check into the company’s location on Facebook.

“We are currently running a small test with a few local businesses of a Wi-Fi router that is designed to offer a quick and easy way to access free Wi-Fi after checking in on Facebook,” the company said in a statement. “When you access Facebook Wi-Fi by checking in, you are directed to your local business’s Facebook Page.”

The trial was first identifed by developer Tom Waddington on Thursday, who noticed an entry called ‘social Wifi’ embedded in the code used to build graphs and charts for Facebook page insights.

A similar WiFi check-in solution for businesses was launched by US start-up HotspotSystem in August. HotspotSystem says that as well as boosting the traffic to a business’s Facebook page, the analytics component of Facebook provides its clients with detailed demographics such as age, gender and geographic location about its users for market research.

“Our solution offers businesses the ability to collect Likes (not just check-ins) and can also post a message on users’ facebook walls, which can be customised by the business,” HotspotSystem software engineer and business developer Roland Kosarszky told Information Age.

“The business can also set the time, bandwidth and traffic limits per user to avoid the free wifi becoming unstable. Facebook is not a hotspot company, so we have more experience than they have,” he said.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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