Elias Pelcastre

I tried Google Station in Mexico City: free and fast public Wi-Fi but at a price

Google describes Google Station as “fast, reliable, for everyone.” So I went to try it in one of the locations spread in Mexico City.

The closest hotspot Galerías Insurgentes, a shopping centre southwest of the city. It’s hard to find one: you can only access it in 7 shopping centres and a bus station.

Nevertheless, Google seems to be making an effort to expand its availability; it’s asking businesses to contact the tech giant if they want Station “at your venue.”

Google Station map Mexico City

In Mexico, Google partnered with Latin American Wi-Fi provider SitWifi. And I can say it is indeed free, fast and reliable, that for a public hotspot.

I used Netflix’s FAST app to check the speed of Station and got 39 Mbps at its highest, or between 15 and 20 Mbps while outside Galerías Insurgentes.

After connecting through the “captive” screen, I saw an ad from department store Liverpool, which coincidentally was next to the shopping centre. Then, I got to surf the web without interruptions, until I decided to protect myself.

I fired Touch, a VPN that secures internet communications while on an untrusted network. To my “surprise,” Google blocks the use of such apps.

I couldn’t load eliaspelcastre.com or any other website while tunneling; the minute I stopped, Station’s connection resumed.

As a test, I hit the download button on a 50-song Spotify playlist, and it downloaded in under three minutes. I found that very impressive for a free Wi-Fi hotspot.

YouTube videos loaded relatively fast, so you can sit in one of Galerías Insurgentes benches and watch a video while you wait for someone to shop.

But I have a hunch that Google’s motivation is not an entirely altruistic one, and that Station provides a backdoor to monitoring what users do on the web to understand their habits and better tailor ads.

So the price for Google´s free Wi-Fi? More of your privacy, please. What do you think?