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Facebook strikes Wi-Fi deal with Cisco Systems

Graeme Parton

Businesses across the world could soon start offering free wireless internet to customers who agree to ‘check-in’ from their Facebook profile, after the Californian social firm agreed a  deal with Cisco Systems.

The collaboration has been in the pilot phase since 2012 but the firms announced on Wednesday that they will be moving forward with the partnership.

In order to get involved, businesses have to load software provided by Facebook onto a Cisco router. From then on, whenever a customer opens their web browser, they will be presented with a page requesting that they publish details of their location on their profile page. Once this has been completed, the user can continue browsing with unlimited access to the store’s Wi-Fi.

Businesses will benefit, as the location sharing on Facebook is sure to provide further exposure. The companies will also be given access to details of the people who visit their premises, such as hometown, gender and age. This data can then be used for marketing purposes. Facebook has stated, however, that this information will be “aggregated” and “anonymous” – so individuals cannot be identified.

Facebook will also benefit, as the initiative will encourage companies to establish new pages on the site – possibly leading to more advertising revenue. What’s more, it’ll help Facebook to retain users’ attention in an increasingly competitive market.

The development sees the extension of a pilot scheme which involved more than 1,000 deployments of Wi-Fi across SMEs in 50 countries. According to a Facebook spokeswoman, though, the new program has been designed with larger companies in mind.

While it didn’t give any names away, Cisco did claim that some of the world’s best-known brand names have been trialling the service. The two companies are thought to be focusing on mobile as more than 50 per cent of shoppers use their devices while browsing stores.

Graeme has experience creating content for online sources and for the radio, and at university he studied Multimedia Journalism.

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