Most travelers spend a lot of time and energy finding public wifi. Even with free T-Mobile international roaming or google fi service there are times when you just need to get on a wifi network. It can be a hassle, wandering around in a new city looking for cafes where you can get some work done. But access is definitely increasing.
I’ve written about a few companies setting up wifi sharing networks: Fon and Velvet. And now there’s another addition to this small group of public wifi innovators: Wiman. Wiman provides maps of free public wifi in cities around the world. But the interesting service is the phone app that will automatically connect your device to these wifi spots when you’re in range. Wiman currently has over 70 million hot spots around the world.
In addition to connecting users to free public wifi, Wiman offers to set businesses up with wifi sharing without making their password visible to the public. They claim that “Free WiFi will attract more customers and will help small businesses increase the social buzz about them on Social Networks.” Wiman provides businesses with a router (for a fee of 89€) which manages their public wifi network. For an additional monthly fee businesses can get services for their public wifi network through Wiman. These appear to focus on promoting the business to wifi users. I’m not sure if users see ads through the Wiman app, but you should assume they are collecting data on your usage and location.
It looks like the Wiman list of wifi hotspots isn’t very comprehensive in the United States. Browsing through San Francisco I see most of the places listed are on the SFWiFi network, which is an SF government project. It looks like Wiman hasn’t connected to businesses in that city yet. On the other hand, the number of listings and diversity of coverage is far greater in London. This initial focus on Europe makes sense since the company is based in Italy.
The app is only available on android so I wasn’t able to set up an account to test it out. Let me know if you try it, I’d like to know if it works well.