Free Wifi for Nigeria From Google?
August 1, 2018
It looks like Google has made a power play with yet another grand gesture for human kind. The search engine giant will now be supplying Lagos, Nigeria with free public Wi-Fi. What does this mean for the most populated country in Africa? It means that what is considered a necessary global service will now be available to an area where many have been previously unable to receive access to the World Wide Web.
Five countries have already been offered the service, with 200 spots about to be connected throughout Nigeria. The free Wi-Fi will be distributed through 21st Century fiber optics at public properties like bus shelters, universities and shopping centers. The Google Station isn’t paying for the services provided by the fiber optic firm, but the company will reap rewards in the form of ad time on the search engine.
Why Is Google Making a Move Like This?
The sudden selfless act by Google has many wondering what’s in it for them. Tax breaks, positive press, and self-redemption following their $5-billion EU suit are a few reasons, but Google has suggested it is purely for the good of mankind. Whatever the reason, it’s plain to see that a move like this could change the lives of hundreds of thousands across the country.
Internet has been deemed a human right in some countries around the world, with a few even going so far as to rule that internet must not only be accessible, but affordable. Too bad this concept hasn’t quite hit North America, where internet prices rise annually. Google is helping to increase the number of users on the net, which not only provides a service to countries without access but helps their own business initiative by connecting users who wouldn’t otherwise visit the Google website or use their algorithms.
The new Google initiative will create doorways via the net for markets in Brazil, India, Nigeria, and Indonesia. Many of these countries are only now catching onto the smart phone craze that took other countries by storm about a decade ago. Smart phones have since become an essential part of everyday life for many, being used for listening to music, watching movies, sending messages, making calls, checking email, online shopping, and of course, taking photos and videos. Applications for every service imaginable, including fitness, business, and even organization, are available alongside games and music.
This is a great beginning, but Google isn’t stopping here. The tech company has suggested that this is only the beginning and that they will continue to branch out into undeveloped areas, where smart phones and the internet are scarce.
What the Public Thinks
Most of the feedback on this project is positive, with many praising the search engine company for their inclusive attitude. Some naysayers have questions why Google would move so far outside their home-zone with internet access when there are still regions of North America without internet. Some rural areas in Atlantic Canada, for example, still use dial up internet, because there’s no access to other forms of internet. These same towns also have little to no cell phone users, because no service is available unless inhabitants are willing to drive thirty minutes to chat with friends and family on their mobile devices.
There has been some speculation that Google chose countries like Nigeria because they’re going to be the next big user of the internet. Unfortunately, with so many untapped users, Google would have been waiting a long time for their search engine to gain popularity, as internet costs in this area are too high for the average citizen. In the past, only a small percentage of Nigerians were accessing mobile internet. This new plan will help to increase that number, but still won’t be inclusive of the entire country. Users with slow connections will also gain access to new apps which help improve internet speed on older devices.
With so much ground to cover in the internet world, it’s hard to know what Google’s next step will be. After reaping the benefits of their latest move, the team could go on to spread more free Wi-Fi across the globe, or focus on growth within the areas they’ve already reached. Although China has finally made space for Google in its high-tech world, the country has decided to retain control, censoring the site in extreme ways to remove temptation of residents from straying beyond the scope of what they allow online. This has sparked debate between Chinese individuals at home and across the globe to no avail.
Google has made it clear that while they wish to spread access to all corners of the world, they don’t want to cause trouble with international laws, especially those which could ultimately lead to their exile from a country with a population of 1.4 billion.
Will Google see a greater presence in Asian countries in years to come, and will China possibly loosen the straps which confine the search engine giant from expanding exponentially throughout the country? For now, it doesn’t look like Google will gain much ground with China, but the company has continued to offer support to surrounding countries in the hopes of making a dent in their tech movement. For more Google related news, follow the official Google News site for announcements from search engine officials, including algorithm updates and major changes to the site itself.