Public Wi-Fi is great. But it’s infuriating when your connection at the neighborhood coffee shop goes down minutes before deadline and the baristas have no clue what’s wrong.
This frustrates the hell out of the coffee shop, too. It wants to offer secure, reliable service but usually lacks the expertise. That’s true of any business that offers free Wi-Fi, especially airports, hotels, and others that offer Wi-Fi on a huge scale.
Google plans to fix this with Google Station, a suite of tools designed to make creating and maintaining public Wi-Fi a breeze. The company isn’t saying much beyond that, but it is working with unspecified Internet service providers and hardware companies to make it happen. Google is now enlisting partners like cafes and shopping malls.
This goes beyond a set of recommended tools or preconfigured WiFi routers. Google will handle login info for the different hotspots. You’ll access the Internet from any of them using a single username and password–no more asking the barista for the network name and password. Google also promises to help Wi-Fi hosts to monetize their connections, the suggestion being that it will handle payments for anyone charging for access.
Google-or rather its parent, Alphabet-already offers Internet connections through its high-speed Google Fiber, its mobile service Google Fi and its struggling effort to replace New York City payphones with Internet kiosks. Station differs in that piggybacks on the Internet service providers. The project stems from Google’s work with India’s state-owned rail system to offer Wi-Fi at stations nationwide using more than 20,000 miles of existing fiber optic cable.
Google now offers Wi-Fi in 50 rail stations in India, and plans to add 50 more by year’s end. Google Station, however, won’t be limited to India. The company hopes to bring the Internet to public places the world over.