back to article Hey, want to make a few bucks? Let Google sell your store's Wi-Fi network capacity

Google on Tuesday announced a service called Orion Wi-Fi to allow businesses to sell spare wireless network capacity to cellular service providers. The project was developed by Area 120, Google's in-house experimental incubator, not to be confused with the "moonshot" group formerly known as Google X, which became a subsidiary …

  1. dirkle


    Hi, Enron!

  2. AustinTX

    Sounds familiar

    I mean, it's just a clone of that wretched thing that used to give away el cheapo routers.

    1. Dinanziame Bronze badge

      Re: Sounds familiar

      I think the French operator has a similar deal; their routers are hotspots for all their users.

      Though a big difference is that this gives an incentive to stores to have a "free" WiFi whose cost can be partly offloaded to phone operators.

  3. RM Myers Silver badge

    If the carrier decides the connection is good enough, we’ll auto-connect you.

    Okay, one more thing to check when choosing your wireless carrier (crosses Republic Wireless off list). Who the fcuk wants their mobile data going through a wi-fi network controlled by a Google owned company. I'm trying as hard as I can to avoid Google tracking, and now they come up with a new way to track you. @#$%^&*()

  4. Maelstorm Bronze badge

    What the..?

    So what about the people who go into that store and get free WiFi on their phones from said store? Not everyone has cellular data turned on in their devices. Sounds like a waste of effort to me.

    1. Flywheel Silver badge

      Re: What the..?

      A lot of people have it turned on without realising it. Sad, but true.

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Another day, another way

    for Google to spy on you. [see icon]

  6. YetAnotherJoeBlow


    Noting that Google is the de-facto name resolver for Android, at a minimum it will get the device ID tied to all of its history plus new location data. Now Google can tell advertisers that they can push a notice to Joe Blow who is presently shopping at X snagging people who keep data and/or location switched off. There might be a bit of money there...

    Like most people I know, I do not use public WIFI - too many headaches.

  7. Chris Hills

    Seems pointless

    Any half decent mobile provider will let you roam onto any WiFi network, so it seems like a waste of time. I do not want to have to worry about finding specific networks that I can use. Besides, I'm not even bothered about voice or sms, all I need is data, which a public WiFi network can provide independently of a mobile network.

    1. Dinanziame Bronze badge

      Re: Seems pointless

      I'm not sure I understand what you mean. The point is that currently, you need to notice that you have a poor connection, that a public WiFi is available, and you need to tell your phone to connect to that WiFi (at least the first time). This proposal would make it happen automatically for you, and it would let WiFi owners earn some money, which makes it more likely that stores will have a free (for you) WiFi sponsored by the phone companies.

  8. RyokuMas Silver badge


    Okay, so the "decent human being" bit of my brain just wanted to scream and rage upon reading this.

    The analytics side has another take: How will I opt out?

    If I am in the EU (assuming this thing takes off and goes global), I might not want my data flowing through someone else's Wi-Fi. Especially if the organisation orchestrating that flow is Google. Especially especially if revenue is based on "other factors" (ie: how much data they can mine out of it).

    How on earth can this play nicely with GDPR?

  9. Anonymous Coward Silver badge


    All you people moaning about google snooping... this is essentially a backhaul service, so do you know who provides all of the backhaul for each cell site that your mobile operator uses? Do you even care?

    Hell, a lot of them go over microwave links which are inherently snoopable! (at least as much as this proposal facilitates anyway)

    They're looking to automate connecting to WiFi to provide 'WiFi calling' functionality, which is essentially 4G-over-VPN. The "random store owner" doesn't see your traffic, just that a device has connected to a M(V)NO

    1. RyokuMas Silver badge

      Re: Critics

      "The "random store owner" doesn't see your traffic, just that a device has connected to a M(V)NO"

      Disregarding the fact that this is a Google-offered service, and that Google's business model is founded on the principle of slurping, you miss one key element: if my device automatically connects to WiFi, then my traffic is going through a router.

      Routers can be compromised. What's the betting that said router still has the default admin credentials?

      This is introducing another attack vector into the chain.

  10. Mike 137 Silver badge


    " allow businesses to sell spare wireless network capacity to cellular service providers"

    That's going to play havoc with PCI DSS and quite a few other security compliance standards. I wonder how many organisations will consider this before signing up.

    1. DS999

      Re: Compliance?

      If the business has wifi available to customers they will have / should have already taken care of PCI compliance (by not having customers and PCI covered data using the same SSID) Adding this additional use of the customer wifi doesn't affect that.

      Not that this isn't a terrible idea for other reasons. Fortunately on my iPhone the cellular setting has an AT&T menu item to enable/disable 'wifi calling'. I leave it enabled so it can use my wifi at home where I don't have the best cellular signal, but if they ever participated in a shady scheme like this I'd turn that off immediately - thus increasing the chance that I might switch to a different provider if I found one that had a better signal where I live.

      1. FILE_ID.DIZ

        Re: Compliance?

        I mean, we're not talking about a Target store are we. Where deli scales at one store were able to connect to checkout computers over the WAN at a different store?

        1. DS999

          Re: Compliance?

          If that could happen in a network that was "PCI compliant" it just shows how fragile the whole PCI DSS is.

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