TechCrunch is reporting that Facebook and Cisco are ready to expand their “Facebook Wifi” program, which lets brick-and-mortar stores ask customers to check-in to their pages before being granted free internet access. The service has been active in select businesses in San Francisco’s Bay Area since last year, but will soon be available to any company in the US.
The businesses involved in the test reported that their daily check-in numbers tripled after they implemented the software. Pretty much any company can use the service as well, as the “Cisco CMX for Facebook Wifi” software integrates with businesses existing routers and broadband services.
When customers connect to the wifi network, they’re directed to a custom landing page. Once a customer checks in, the service automatically connects them to the secured network. Customer’s can opt out, and still connect to the internet, but the “skip check-in” button is noticeably obscured on the page, as you can see below (photo from TechCrunch).
For businesses the service provides anonymized, aggregate data on their clientele’s demographics, and allows them to offer free, secured internet access without having to tell each customer the password. It may also provide an extra incentive for local businesses to provide free internet. For Facebook, the service provides even more data on user behavior, including potentially valuable metrics on the stores they visit, which could in turn lead to greater advertising revenue. What exactly Cisco is gaining, besides increased brand presence, is not readily apparent.