Ali Telecom, Alibaba Group’s virtual cellular-service provider, today launched a mobile app–Tao WiFi–offering customers limited free Internet access at millions of Wi-Fi hotspots in China.
To create the service, Ali Telecom partnered with major telecommunications companies China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom, which together operate 6 million hotspots at shopping malls, airports, railway stations, hotels, tourist destinations and other locations.
By logging onto the Tao WiFi app through Alibaba-owned Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com online-shopping accounts, users can get one hour of free Internet service every day, according to Ali Telecom.
Free service can also be redeemed by using virtual currency rewards earned on Taobao. Additional time must be purchased from Wi-Fi hotspot operators; however, 11 hospitals in Zhejiang Province are offering unlimited free access provided by another Ali Telecom partner Lianlian Tech.
The Tao WiFi app can automatically find available hotpots within a distance of 300 meters. For data security, Tao WiFi will only show available hotpots operated by Ali Telecom’s partners.
Ali Telecom said it is working with multiple partners to build China’s largest free Wi-Fi alliance. The company is one of 41 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) in China that purchase cellular network bandwidth from China’s major carriers and resell it to consumers.