Wi-Fi Wars - Google vs. Microsoft vs. Yahoo

By oish330oish330 (1257787891|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Free Wi-Fi is all over the place (except at Starbucks in Ann Arbor….). Access to the internet has never been easier, and thanks to Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo free Wi-Fi is about to become even easier to find. In a promotional/holiday season gift giving effort Microsoft started setting up free Wi-Fi hotspot in various locations around the U.S. Since Microsoft's push, Google, Yahoo, and even eBay have hopped on the bandwagon and are looking to promote their sites via cleverly located hotspots.

The Scoop

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As I mentioned above, Microsoft was the first-mover with this promotional idea of free Wi-Fi. Setting up hotspots in many airports and hotels nationwide, all users have to do to access the web free of charge is try Bing, Microsoft's search engine, once. According to the company, the promotion has been a success and Microsoft plans to continue rolling out hotspots to drive traffic to their search engine.

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Following suit, Google announced today (11/10/09) that it would set up free Wi-Fi hotspots in 47 airports (about 35% of US travel goes through these airports) in partnership with Boingo wireless - anyone who has travelled through major airports will be familiar with Boingo, providing not so free Wi-Fi for travelers. Additionally, Google will provide free Wi-Fi on Virgin Wireless flights. Google's ploy to drive traffic is to have users' browsers open up to a page that prompts them to donate to one of three charities (Engineers Without Borders, the One Economy Corporation or the Climate Savers Computing Initiative) with the comment that Google will match any donation up to $250,000. The airport that raises the most money will also receive $15,000 to donate to a local non-profit of their choice.

Google's promotion lasts through January 15. I wish they would release cost figures on this…

For more info, click here. To see which airports will have free Wi-Fi, check out this site.

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Although taking a different twist on the free Wi-Fi idea, Yahoo has joined in as well. Instead of providing Wi-Fi in many locations, Yahoo is focusing on just one: Times Square in New York City. According to the company, the promotion is “the latest literal expression of Yahoo’s promise to be at the center of people’s online lives.” In conjunction with the Wi-Fi hotspot, Yahoo has also set up a "Yodel studio" (Yahooooooooo) in Times Square.

Yahoo's efforts in Times Square are part of their new $100 million ad campaign attempting to reinvigorate the search engine and will be present for one full year. More info available here.

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Lastly, eBay also decided to join in on this Wi-Fi extravaganza in order to invite users to make holiday purchases on their site. eBay will be providing free Wi-Fi on Delta Airlines flights during the Thanksgiving holiday.

More info:

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