Google's new broadband offer: 20-days of WiFi for a quid
Balloon-busting service only in Indonesia ... for now
Google is trying another tactic to get more of the developing world online, this time with a WiFi Passport service allowing Android users in the Indonesian capital Jakarta to bypass busy 3G networks.
To access the service, dubbed WiFi Passport, users will need to be running Android 2.2 and above.
After downloading an app from the Play Store, they will then need to have a WiFi Passport voucher – akin to a top-up card – which are available from a range of café and convenience store chains, gaming centres and university campuses.
Getting started is apparently as easy as launching the app and entering the code on the WiFi Passport voucher. Individual sessions last 24 hours with no requirement to re-enter credentials each time the user visits a different Wi-Fi spot in the city.
Data usage is limited to 3GB for one day, 7GB over a week and 10GB over 30 days, Google said.
Promotional Passport vouchers valid for ten days can be obtained for free at special events in the Indonesian capital. After the freebies finish a 20 day voucher costs IDR20,000 (£1.12 or $US1.80) and a 50 day voucher is IDR50,000 (£2.80 or $4.46).
While the entirety of the vast Jakarta conurbation of over 30 million isn’t covered with participating hotspots, Google has a decent number already up and running in major centres.
The Chocolate Factory didn’t say if the scheme would be extended to other major cities in Asia and beyond, but given the company's willingness to try beaming broadband from balloons we'll guess that if Passport is a success it could become one of the ways the Google fulfils its mission to bring the “next billion” online.
Let's also remember Google's November 2012 launch of the Google Free Zone in the Philippines, offering free access to search, Gmail and Google+ even without a mobile data plan.
The firm has also been trialling the use of white space TV spectrum in Africa to bring low cost connectivity to rural communities. ®