Facebook helps some local businesses provide free Wi-Fi in exchange for check-ins

Facebook is testing a new service that allows local businesses to offer customers free Wi-Fi after checking in on the social network, the company tells us.

For this small test, Facebook is supplying the router but businesses are providing the Internet access. When visitors check into a location on Facebook, they are redirected to the business’ Facebook page and can continue to browse the web for free. Page owners will be able to track how many new Likes they received from people who took advantage of this service. Visitors who don’t wish to check in can request a passcode from the local business to connect to the network anyway.

Developer Tom Waddington, who also discovered Facebook testing the Want button plugin and possibly promoted messages, first tipped us off to this when he found a new entry called “social wifi” in the “Like sources” section of the Insights API. The explanation for the entry is “People who liked your page after checking in via Facebook Wi-Fi.”

Facebook confirmed to us in a statement, “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. When you access Facebook Wi-Fi by checking in, you are directed to your local business’s Facebook Page.”

This is similar to a service provided by HotspotSystem also called “Social Wi-Fi,” but Facebook says it does not have a connection with that company.

Waddington correctly speculated whether Facebook was testing Like-gated free Wi-Fi, though he also wondered if this was part of a bigger effort where page owners of local businesses would be able to associate their Wi-Fi hotspots with their Facebook page. Then, a prompt on the Facebook homepage might suggest Wi-Fi users become a fan of the page. This could be an interesting ad type in the future, but it doesn’t seem to be what Facebook is testing now.

It’s important to note that Facebook Wi-Fi is a limited test that is not necessarily going to be rolled out wider any time soon. We’ve heard that this began as a hackathon project.

[Update: Rakesh Agrawal, an analyst focused on the intersection of local, social and mobile, wrote an interesting post last year about how Google or Facebook could improve local search by sending routers to businesses.]

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10 Responses to “Facebook helps some local businesses provide free Wi-Fi in exchange for check-ins”

  1. Facebook Testing Free Wi-Fi After Users Check In To Businesses - AllFacebook says:

    [...] Developer Tom Waddington — the very same Tom Waddington who discovered Facebook’s test of an upcoming concerts module, its potential introduction of promoted messages, its exploration of social commerce, and its initial testing of the want button — once again unearthed the social network’s test of a potential new feature, which Facebook confirmed to sister blog Inside Facebook. [...]

  2. Report: Facebook Testing Free Wi-Fi Check-In Program says:

    [...] suspicions were soon confirmed when InsideFacebook did some digging and managed to obtain a statement from Facebook saying. “We are currently running a small test with a few local businesses of a [...]

  3. Gratis Draadloos Internet na Facebook Inlog | Draadloos-internetten.com says:

    [...] ze in een winkel ingelogd hebben op de Facebookpagina van de betreffende winkel. Dit nieuwtje is te lezen op de website Inside [...]

  4. Facebook’s New Timeline and “Social Wifi” says:

    [...] recent Facebook test is happening right now: the company is offering free Wi-Fi for check-ins to help local businesses. Facebook is supplying routers though businesses need to supply the [...]

  5. Facebook Social WiFi | Testing WiFi Interaction says:

    [...] Waddington was proven correct in his assessment, when InsideFacebook.com was able to get this conformation statement from [...]

  6. iMedia Grupo Tecnológico » Wi-Fi gratis en tiendas y bares si entras a Facebook says:

    [...] compañía lo ha confirmado a Inside Facebook. La idea es que los usuarios disfrutarán de un acceso rápido a WiFi en esos establecimientos si [...]

  7. Google debuts Free Zone to challenge Facebook for dominance in developing countries | PandoDaily says:

    [...] much of 2012, and Facebook is testing a service that would make it possible for small businesses to offer free WiFi to customers who check-in on Facebook. Though the principle is the same for the US and the Philippines, since Google and Facebook want to [...]

  8. Tech News That Matters To Me – 11/12/12 says:

    [...] rumored to soon be releasing their own phone that may or may not be made by HTC.  Would you like Free Wi Fi with [...]

  9. Facebook Continues Testing Free Wi-Fi With Cafe Partners - Mike Isaac - Social - AllThingsD says:

    [...] a handful of cafes in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley areas. In the program, first noticed by Inside Facebook, Facebook provides its partner cafes with free routers, and customers check in to the business on [...]

  10. How to Use Facebook Location-based Marketing [Check-Ins] | Socially Sorted says:

    [...] if this article from Inside Facebook is anything to go by, we might be seeing some really cool functions coming on board from Facebook. They reveal that [...]

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