Google is perhaps best known for Search, the Chrome web browser, and the Android platform, and all three have one thing in common: the need for an Internet connection, preferably a good and always connected one.
That is why Google has directly dived into the ISP industry, in one form or another, especially in emerging markets where Internet connectivity is still pretty much a luxury. The latter comes in the form of its Google Stations, free Wi-Fi hotspots for everyone, which is now adding the Cape Flats area as its first beneficiary in South Africa.
Google has adopted a rather interesting way of providing Internet services. With Google Station, it is also partnering with local ISPs to turn the ISP’s hotspots into Google’s high-speed public Wi-Fi platform. In other words, Google Wi-Fi for all.
That was the model that Google first launched in India, followed by Indonesia and Nigeria just to name a few. The arrival in South Africa marks the second time the Google Station has crossed over the Atlantic. Partnering with local ISP ThinkWifi, Google Station brings wifi to over 100 locations across Langa, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Delft, Elsies River, Philippi and more. These areas are some of the most underserved communities in the country, with high unemployment and crime rates.
Google Station is part of the company’s strategy to address the “Next Billion Users”, placing focus on markets where access to the Internet is inversely proportional to the hundreds of thousands of potential users, and therefore customers. It goes hand in hand with Android Go, which promises to keep data and hardware use down to a minimum, especially on entry level phones.