D-Link said this week that it would begin shipping a router that supports "Facebook Wi-Fi," the social networking giant's effort to tie a Facebook checkin to free Wi-Fi access.
The D-Link 11AC Router with Facebook Wi-Fi is available for $149.99 through D-Link, and offers a simple trade-off: If you, as a user, check into the Facebook page owned by the business, you'll get free Wi-Fi access.
What started as a Facebook internal hackathon project last year, however, may have flown beneath the radar screen since then.
Three router families officially support Facebook Wi-Fi: Cisco's ISR G2, ASR 1000, and Meraki wireless products; Netgear's AC1750 Wi-Fi router, the R6300v2; and the new D-Link Wi-Fi 11AC router, otherwise known as the DIR-865L, according to a D-Link representative.
Obviously, a business needs to have set up a Facebook page, and then must configure the router to set up a guest network that points to the page in question, as this Netgear page indicates. Facebook then issues the customer a credential to access the router's wireless network. In return, according to Facebook, that checkin alerts the user's friends to the presence of the business, driving engagement and hopefully sales.
"We worked closely with Facebook to deliver an easy-to-use Wi-Fi solution for small business owners looking to create or replace a Wi-Fi hotspot for their customers," said Daniel Kelley, vice president of marketing for D-Link, in a statement. "The D-Link 11AC Router with integrated Facebook Wi-Fi offers an incredibly easy way for small businesses to set up a public network, while also enabling them to engage and interact with customers in new ways."
Unfortunately, there's no real way of determining how successful Facebook's Wi-Fi program has been. There's no national map of Facebook Wi-Fi locations, and the growing ubiquity of high-speed, unlimited bandwidth cellular connections probably means that more people are surfing as much on their phone as on their laptop. Still, it's essentially the equivalent of signing into a Spotify or other service for free, in exchange for your data and access to your friends — which is becoming par for the course these days.
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