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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

November 11, 2009 at 2:27 PM

More about free Google Wi-Fi: SeaTac delay and the fine print

A few more details have emerged about Google’s plan to offer free Wi-Fi at SeaTac and 46 other airports through the holidays.

First, SeaTac’s service is delayed for a week while a contract issue is sorted out with AT&T, the current Wi-Fi provider.

Google spokesman Andrew Pederson said SeaTac should get the free Wi-Fi by Nov. 18.

The service began at other airports Tuesday when Google announced the “holiday gift.” Later an asterisk was added to SeaTac, noting that its service was coming in late November.

Google’s announcement took credit for SeaTac getting free Wi-Fi permanently, saying that “as a result of this project, Burbank and Seattle airports will begin offering airport-wide free Wi-Fi indefinitely.” But SeaTac was already planning to offer free WiFi starting in 2010, according to spokesman Perry Cooper.

“It’s not happening because of their involvement — we were already planning on doing it,” he said, adding that Google’s offer does make the service free earlier, during the holidays.

That’s not all. I asked Pederson if any ads will be shown to people using the airport Wi-Fi. He said no ads will be displayed, but when people try to access the service, they will have to click through a Web page promoting Google products.

This interstitial, splash page asks if users would like to download Google’s Chrome browser, add Google’s Toolbar to their computer and set Google as their home page. People do not have to download the Google products to use the free Wi-Fi, Pederson said.

“It’s completely opt-in — nothing is preselected for you,” he said.

Sounds like one of those holiday parties where the host gives you a little Amway pitch while ladling the eggnog. You can just smile and head for their buffet.

Cooper said the pitch page will go away at SeaTac after Google’s holiday gift ends Jan. 15.

Comments | Topics: airport, free wifi, Google

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