National

Free Wi-Fi is trialed for tourists

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Wire and Wireless Co. on Friday will begin trials of a free Wi-Fi service targeting foreign tourists, the company said Thursday.

The major Wi-Fi provider, also known as Wi2, has produced an app for smartphones and tablets that lets people connect to hot spots and receive sightseeing information and sales promotions.

The Travel Japan Wi-Fi app runs on both the Android and iOS operating systems.

“I think this is the beginning of a new kind of free Wi-Fi service,” said Koji Otsuka, president of Wi2, referring to adds-for-access deal. Wi2 is part of the KDDI Corp. group.

Downloading the app and registering opens up access to some of the company’s 240,000 hot spots nationwide, including at Starbucks outlets and on the Airport Limousine Bus.

It also lets them get store coupons and see promotions for partner firms. A visit to those outlets, or a purchase, may result in the user getting a premium code for unlocking access to the full range of Wi2 hot spots.

The participants include entertainment guide PIA Corp., discount chain Don Quijote Co., and Japan Airlines Co., which will issue a premium hot spot code if a user flies on JAL.

Municipalities such as the cities of Kobe and Kyoto are partners, too, meaning they, too, can distribute the code.

The system is ultimately a form of sponsorship: Partner organizations pay a fee to Wi2 for the right to advertise their services to users.

Wi2 said the Travel Japan Wi-Fi app will also collect information on user habits, such as GPS records of their travels, so the activity can be analyzed and used to focus tourist marketing strategies.

It said the trial will last through next June, with the full roll-out eyed in July 2015.