Sadly, just as soon as it started, it is ending. The internet giant’s global free public Wi-Fi initiative is coming to a close, four years after it started its operations in 2016.
In November last year, Google launched Google Station’s Free Wi-Fi, in 100 locations in the poorest of Cape Flats areas. The Free Wi-Fi project is shutting down worldwide, including their partnership with Think Wifi in South Africa.
Since its inception in 2016, Google Station has provided free wifi to millions of user in Mexico, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, Phillipines, Vietnam, Nigeria and, most recently, South Africa.
A Google representative said :
“In line with Google’s mission, we started Google Station in 2016 to help bring more people online. We’re humbled that our work has been able to help millions of people experience the power of the internet for the first time. However, the ecosystem has evolved since then–4G is getting prevalent in a number of markets and data prices are dropping globally. This, combined with the complex and varying technical requirements across partners and countries, makes it a challenge to scale and sustain Station. This has made us re-evaluate our plans and we have decided to wind down the program through 2020. We are working with our partners to support our users and them to gradually transition. We remain committed to look for ways to make the internet more accessible for users around the world.”
Google’s operations in South Africa has been transferred to Think Wifi, who will continue to carry out the free wifi project independently. The CEO of Think Wifi, Janine Rebelo said that the initiative in the Western Cape has been a huge success and there are ongoing plans to roll out the free wifi project in other areas, viz : Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.