Google is outfitting Uber vehicles in Philadelphia with free WiFi this summer through Labor Day as an experiment to test out the concept of providing the service inside Uber vehicles.
The project was announced by Kelly Campbell, Google’s director of enterprise marketing, in a July 22 post on the Google Enterprise Blog.
“Work doesn’t just get done in the office: ideas are born and deals are closed from the patios of coffee shops, the benches of train stations and the backseats of taxicabs,” wrote Campbell. “And in the summer, when the office is often the last place many of us want to be, it’s even more essential to get work done faster from anywhere—even on the way to where you’re going.”
That’s where the idea to expand WiFi services was inspired, she wrote. “At Google, we value mobility and want to find the best way for our customers to do their work when they’re on the go. That’s why we invested in new infrastructure in Boston to support free public Wifi at South Station last year. And it’s why we’re now outfitting Uber partners’ cars in Philadelphia with free Wifi for the summer, compliments of Google Apps for Business. Thousands of entrepreneurs, consultants, restaurateurs and business owners now have another way to help them get work done from anywhere throughout The City of Brotherly Love.”
The service is available to Uber users throughout Philadelphia, wrote Campbell. “So, Philadelphia, whether you’re on the way to Wawa, the Linc, the Shore, or the office, you now have one more place to get your work done quickly so you can spend more time enjoying the summer and less time looking at the walls of your cubicle.”
The Uber car service presently operates in about 41 countries around the world, competing with traditional taxicabs and other vehicles. Uber continues to face scrutiny in many cities because it operates its vehicles without having to comply with rules for traditional taxis.
In a July 22 post on the Uber blog, the company said that the new experimental WiFi services in Philadelphia can be used by riders who request the service through their Uber apps on their mobile devices.
“Juggling the demands of any job in our 24/7 world can be tough, especially when the summer sunshine is calling,” the post states. “Thankfully, working on the go in Philadelphia just got easier with uberWIFI. Now you can stay connected from home to work to play and then back home again without any interruption.”
Uber users can use the free WiFi by sliding the button for the free WiFi option that can be found on their Uber mobile app, according to the company. Users can connect to the network from any compatible device without a password. The service will only be available in Uber cars that seat up to four people, not in SUVs.
“uberWIFI is new and experimental,” the post states. “Demand will be high and ETAs may be longer than usual so check the app often to get a sense of availability. Additionally, like with any other hotspot, coverage areas and reliability may vary.”
Google has certainly been involved in providing community WiFi projects in the past. In December 2013, the company announced plans to build and provide a free public outdoor WiFi service for some 80,000 residents in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood under an initiative announced by the city. The project will cover some 95 blocks in Harlem and is being paid for by a donation from the Fuhrman Family Foundation. There will be no cost to users for the services, which are initially being funded for five years.
In July 2013, Google also presented the city of San Francisco with a $600,000 grant to build a WiFi network that will provide free WiFi throughout the city’s 31 parks and open spaces. The grant will cover the cost of needed equipment, installation and maintenance of the system for two years. All 31 sites are expected to be fully completed and ready for use this spring.
Google created a free WiFi network in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan, near its New York offices, back in January 2013. The system encapsulated the first Google-served neighborhood in Manhattan and at the time was slated to be the largest contiguous WiFi network in New York City, according to Google.