It was only last year when social networking giant, Facebook, began testing its newest ability – the “Find WiFi” feature. This wifi locator allows mobile users locate businesses nearby that have free, public WiFi hotspots through the app. At the time they started testing, the option was available only mobile only for iOS users in selected countries.
Find WiFi was launched in a few countries in 2016. A few days ago, Facebook announced users its expansion feature around the globe. According to Facebook, the feature has already been rolled out in selected countries and both iOS and Android devices will soon gain access to “Find Wi-Fi.”
In the announcement, Facebook said it found the feature to be useful in areas where cellular data is scarce. Furthermore, this would ultimately help people who are traveling. This is just one of the projects meant to boost internet connectivity and of course, Facebook use
“Wherever you are, you can easily map the closest connections when your data connection is weak,” said Facebook in a statement.
In developed markets like the U.S., that could mean more remote, rural locations. In emerging markets however, it’s an even more powerful tool as users often have limited data plans, and spotty cellular coverage in general.
You can find this feature under the “More” tab in the Facebook app and then “Find WiFi.”
Once you locate the “Find WiFi” tab, Facebook notes the users to turn on the feature. Afterwards, Facebook will display a map showing the closest and nearby hotspots along with those locations’ business hours; what kind of places they are and their network names. However, businesses have to opt in to this service by claiming their network on their Facebook Page. So, not every available hotspot will show up.
The WiFi locator is handy and serves as another way to discover local businesses. This means users might start turning to Facebook to find the closest coffee shop with Wi-Fi other than Google Maps.
According to reports, the company is also working on an undersea cable connection between Los Angeles and Hong Kong; Internet-providing drones and laser-based Internet access.
But the feature isn’t as of yet as reliable as it should be. Though it easily picked up Wi-Fi hotspots at nearby restaurants and malls, for example, it didn’t include the closest Starbucks or McDonald’s in our list of suggestions.
This is because, for the feature to work, a business must first claim their Wi-Fi network. And they can do that by navigating to their “Edit Page Info” on their Facebook Page. Alternatively, more simply put, it’s an opt-in setting. That being said, the feature saw good adoption during the tests starting last year. Now that businesses know it’s a globally available feature, adoption may increase.
A tool for listing Wi-Fi networks is just Facebook’s only effort with regard to helping users with mobile connectivity. The company has much larger projects ongoing to expand mobile connectivity in up-and-coming markets and infrastructure investments around the world for delivering connectivity and more.
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