You may have never heard of Google Station – an initiative which rolls out “safe” public Wi-Fi hotspots to provide partners with hardware and software support. In Africa, Google Station is already available in Nigeria with a target of 200 hotspots by the end of this year.
To deploy the networks, Google is working with local network providers and in the case of South Africa, the tech giant is still looking for operators to partner with. It’s reported Google wants to launch over 100 hotspots in the country by September.
The only stumbling block with Google’s Station initiative has been around revenue which carries some questions for operators laying out infrastructure, hardware and maintenance whilst Google then shows ads to users who are on these hotspots and splits revenue between itself and operators.
The bone of contention is actually two-fold:
i) The network providers might not generate revenues that justify their outlay for infrastructure and;
ii) Mobile network operators aren’t too chuffed at the prospects of subscribers using hotspots over their mobile data.
It seems the Stations project is somewhat experimental and not too unlike Google’s Loon project in Kenya which sounds appealing on paper but has also seen its viability questioned, though the project’s commercial trials are said to be taking place later this year.
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