It's not unheard-of for Google to give away free Wi-Fi access. For the past few years the company has offered complimentary Wi-Fi to travelers at airports during the holiday season.
This week, Boingo Wireless announced that it will be enabling more than 4,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots in cities across the U.S. Boingo is the same software and services provider that Google partnered with to provide Wi-Fi in airports. The free Wi-Fi will last from now until the end of September.
Boingo stated that the hotspots will be placed in high-traffic locations in "dozens" of cities in the U.S. 15 airports are included in the rollout, including JFK and O'Hare. Some Manhattan subway stations will get the service, as well as thousands of hotels, shopping malls, cafes, and "recreational areas."
Access to the Wi-Fi runs through Boingo's Cloud Nine Media platform, which enables advertising through Wi-Fi access sponsorship. iPhone users are a bit out of luck, however - access is restricted to Android, Windows, and Mac OS X users. This may be a limitation of iOS, or it could be because the sponsor for the service is Google Play, Google's web and smartphone store.
“Google Play is the first to take part in our newly expanded Wi-Fi sponsorship network, which reaches millions of consumers each month with place-based brand engagements,” said Dawn Callahan, vice president of consumer marketing for Boingo Wireless. “Sponsorships like this give users the free Wi-Fi they crave, advertisers the consumer interaction they need, and venues the revenue to offset the costs associated with providing a high-bandwidth Wi-Fi experience.”