The internet giant’s global free public Wi-Fi initiative is coming to a close, four years after it started its operations in 2016.
Google Station partnered with local telco companies from each participating country and rolled out free public Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide. For instance, the Philippines has over 400+ free Wi-Fi stations spread around the archipelago, made possible with Google’s partnership with Smart Communications.
But while it’s good to make free internet accessible to everyone, these companies still need to a proft to keep operations alive.
UPDATE: A Google representative in the Philippines reached out to us to clarify the issue. Here’s the official statement from Google.
“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.”
According to the report by Manila Bulletin, the primary reason for the upcoming shutdown of the Google Station service is because of Google’s failure to support the platform. A person who has knowledge on the said matter told the publication that “there is not enough advertising revenue to sustain the partnership with telcos.”
When will it happen? Google says they will continue to operate until the end of 2020. Fortunately, telcos will be absorbing some Google Station locations to continue the service on their own. Smart says it will keep the service in key areas in the Philippines.
Google Stations in other countries, particularly Thailand, Nigeria, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil, and Mexico are also closing down.