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Wednesday, 14 March 2018 | MYT 1:10 PM

Google brings free WiFi to Mexico, first stop in Latin America

MEXICO CITY: Alphabet's Google said on March 12 that it will launch a network of free WiFi hotspots across Mexico, part of the search giant's effort to improve connectivity in emerging markets and put its products in the hands of more users.

Google Station, an ad-supported network of WiFi hotspots in high-traffic locations, is launching in Mexico with 56 hotspots and others planned, the company said.

Mexico will be Google Station's third market following India and Indonesia, and the first in Latin America.

Mexico has made great strides in connectivity since a 2013-14 telecom reform intended to loosen the grip of billionaire Carlos Slim's America Movil, which has long dominated the market.

From 2013 to 2016, the number of people accessing the Internet in Mexico rose by 20 million, according to a report last fall by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Still, the country lags behind other OECD nations in terms of Internet access, the report said.

"We are finding that public WiFi remains still a very important way to get online," Anjali Joshi, a vice-president for product management at Google, told reporters.

She added that Google saw Mexico as a good entry point for the product in Latin America. Mexico-based SitWifi provided equipment for the hotspots.

Google's initial batch of WiFi zones is scattered across the country, from the Ciudad Juarez airport at the US border to posh shopping centres in Mexico City.

Google Station now counts roughly 8 million users a month in India, where the programme began in 2016. — Reuters