Wi-Fi Partner is a mobile app that can magically make paid Wi-Fi hotspots free. It’s not like jailbreaking an iPhone and making paid apps free, but that Wi-Fi Partner pays carriers or paid hotspots providers based on data consumed by end users.

It’s not a charitable endeavor for enabling every user to access the Internet at paid hotspots. Wi-Fi Partner is a for-profit company.

To access Wi-Fi Partner’s free service, users, with no need to pay money though, but have to do tasks, such as sharing given content to social networks, downloading given apps, shopping on e-commerce sites featured on Wi-Fi Partner’s website, etc. How many days they can use the free Wi-Fi service depends on the number of tasks they have completed. Or, users can opt-in to a monthly subscription of unlimited access for 30 yuan (about $4).

Apart from the three Chinese carriers, Wi-Fi Partner has reached partnership with Chinese Wi-Fi solution providers, WiWide and Joome, so that it can show targeted ads based on user data those services have been collecting.

The team behind Wi-Fi Partner started developing it in 2012, now it has more than 9 million users. The app currently only supports Android phones and jailbroken iPhones. It has raised 4 million yuan ($650,000) from an angel investor.

The tech industry have been working on location-based services and solutions for a long time. Some finally landed on Wi-Fi access with which they can reach users, collect user data, offer them services, or profit from them.

Dr. Peng, a telecom service provider, announced to invest 2 billion yuan (more than $300 mn) in Wi-Fi access points in first-tier cities in China. Recently it acquired a Wi-Fi solution provider.

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com

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