Google sure do have a lot of services that are aimed at impacting lives across the world. One of such is the Google Station program; a service which Google runs in conjunction with local partners to provide WiFi hotspot across publics places in the where individuals can have free access to internet connection.
At the tech giant’s “Google for Nigeria” event, Google announced the entrance of the Google Station program into Africa, with Nigeria being the first state to enjoy the privilege. Aimed at solving the connectivity challenge facing the country, Google also intends to expand its reach in the region using the Google Station as entry point.
What is Google Station?
Google started the Google Station Initiative in 2012 and has since launched in four countries (India, Thailand, Mexico, and Indonesia). The July 2018 launch make Nigeria the 5th beneficiary of the Google Free WiFi service.
As mentioned earlier, the model of the program is Google associating with a (local) partner and providing software and hardware contribution to actualize the “free WiFi for all” goal.
Most of Google’s partners on a Google Station project usually include network operators, fiber providers, infrastructure companies, system integrators, large venues, organizations etc.
Google Station in Nigeria
To bring Free WiFi to cities in Nigeria, Google will be partnering with a Nigerian-based fiber network provider, 21st Century Technologies, to provide free WiFi access in 200 locations in 5 cities in the country by 2019.
The Nigeria’s Google Station project will, however, kick off in Lagos first in well-populated and crowded public spots like malls, airports, parks, transport hubs, schools/universities etc.
Presently, the free Wi-Fi hotspots are available at the Landmark Centre, The Palms Mall, Ikeja Mall, and Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA2) Domestic Airport Terminal.
Upon successful set-up in Lagos, the Google Station service will be expanded to other locations across five additional Nigerian cities— Port Harcourt, Abuja, Kaduna, Enugu, and Ibadan.
How fast is the Google Station?
Asides bringing free WiFi to throw country, Google prides the Google Station’s hotspots as “fast…and secure”. And since that’s what majority of internet users want out of an internet network, the free WiFi speed of 30 megabits per second (Mbps) — compared to Nigeria’s 1.8Mbps internet speed in the above image— will definitely excite and attract many users.
What’s in it for Google?
Like they say “Nothing comes free…not even in Freetown”, the Google Station free WiFi Hotspot isn’t entirely “FREE”. And relax, you won’t be paying any money either. “Ads” is the price to pay.
Google will monetize Google Station service through local advertisers. Interestingly, revenue from Ads placements will be shared with other technical partners. Google will be sticking some ads in the faces of users of the free WiFi service through captive portal login pages.
To the curious cats, captive login pages doesn’t mean you’ll have to login with some details or whatever. Here’s a case scenario:
You connect to the wifi hotspot at a Google Station location (say at MMA2 Airport Terminal). You launch your web browser to visit your favorite tech news site (say NaijaTechGuide). Now instead of taking you straight to NaijaTechGuide’s homepage, you might be redirected to a page showing some sort of Ad or WiFi terms of usage. Now that’s a captive portal login page…and you might be redirected a number of times during usage.
However, it still is a fair price to pay for fast, secure, and FREE internet usage. WIN-WIN, yes?
What do you think about the Google Station free WiFi service? Is your city among the above listed beneficiary locations? Have you tried out the Google Station free WiFi? Tell us your experience in the comments. We’d love to know.