Secure and free Wi-Fi is provided in public spaces to provide internet access and participation in the consumer market to those unable to afford a home internet connection. Public Wi-Fi in central urban areas can stimulate economic activity in that area, and may also reduce roaming data costs for tourists visiting the area.
Most G20 countries have examples of free local Wi-Fi.
Brazil: Between 2013 and 2015, there has been 83% growth in the number of Brazilian cities providing internet access for free in public areas. 1,457 out of 5,570 Brazilian municipalities offered free Internet access in 2014.
India: By May 2017, Mumbai will have 1,200 hotspots, making it the biggest public Wi-Fi network in India and one of the largest in the world.
Turkey and Indonesia: Acknowledging the lack of secure and stable public Wi-Fi connections, private organisations are offering rental 4G Wi-Fi enabled hotspots.
United Kingdom: The UK Government’s SuperConnected cities initiative has introduced public Wi-Fi on transport in nine cities.
DotEveryone have carried out research into the suitability of internet provision in elderly care homes.
In late 2016, Transport for London collected pseudoanonymised connection data from their public Wi-Fi networks in 54 stations to “better understand how London Underground passengers move through stations and interchange between lines”.
If usage exceeds the capacity of a Wi-Fi network, customer experience can be poor due to slow speeds.
Data transferred across public Wi-Fi networks that don’t use a password can be intercepted by other people.