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Cisco and Facebook collaborating on free Wi-Fi project

Cisco and Facebook collaborating on free Wi-Fi project

GET CONNECTED: Facebook and Cisco could bring free Wi-Fi to a business near you. Photo: Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Cisco Systems Inc said on Wednesday it was working with Facebook Inc to offer free Wi-Fi Internet access to consumers at public places such as hotels or retail stores using their Facebook log-in.

A visitor could check in at a hotel without having to line-up at a front desk by simply signing in via the Facebook application on a smartphone, Cisco said.

The company also demonstrated how it might work at a hospital as Chief Executive Officer John Chambers gave a speech at the Interop technology conference in New York.

Chambers said retailers could deliver tailored promotions or information to consumers who check in through Facebook when they arrive at a store.

Cisco said some customers of its Connected Mobile Experience Wi-Fi technology are currently testing the system.

While Cisco is looking to sell network equipment, Facebook appears to be following arch-rival Google Inc in collecting data on the shopping and Web browsing habits of customers so it can offer targeted ads.

Earlier this year, Google announced plans to bring free wireless Internet access to 7,000 Starbucks Corp cafes across the United States.

As part of their deal, Google will also help develop a version of the Starbucks Digital Network available to customers, putting it in a strong position to offer targeted advertising and promote the music and other media it sells.

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