Wifi authentication via SMS not such a good idea

Popped into Asda this morning (wicked prices on fresh papayas) and noticed free wifi, offered via EE.

Terrific, I thought! Tapped the ‘Get Online’ button, entered my phone number into the subsequent dialog saying EE would send me a text message with an authentication code.

Equally terrific! Except, I was inside a huge store where the cellular signal was just about non existent. So no SMS message could arrive…

Slight #Fail, EE and Asda :)

Free wifi at Asda

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Stuart Bruce

    Ironically that's the reason Asda offers free wifi, to compensate for poor signals in some stores. To be fair I've managed to get an SMS even when the signal wasn't strong enough/too intermittent for voice and data.

  2. Neville Hobson

    +Stuart Bruce I would imagine the prime reason would be similar to why Tesco offered wifi a year or so ago: give your customers a way to easily get online so they can talk about you. Tesco actually said they wanted customers to do price comparisons while in the store as they were that confident in their low prices. Good old marketing talk!

    Reality is cellular signals are typically poor inside buildings like huge supermarkets. Other variables, too, not the least being different networks. I'd have some other way of enabling people to conect via your strong wifi signal, not a text message via an iffy cellular connection.

  3. Armin Grewe

    I think most supermarkets suffer from that problem. Sainsbury's Calcot is interesting: Full 3G (on Vodafone, which is a miracle in itself, after all it's only 10 miles to the Vodafone HQ) in the car park. As soon as you step inside, whoosh, if you're lucky 2-3 bars on 2G….

  4. Jason T. Smith

    This is the problem for every company and every developer.  I want to write cool apps/sites for our customers but they cant even get a text, let alone download images in these brick and mortars. Here in the US, for retail "mall" stores its even worse since they cannot even get a decent wifi signal for themselves let alone give it out to the customers.

  5. Neville Hobson

    +Armin Grewe the Calcot Sainsbury's is a classic, Armin. A huge cavernous place – justice to the name 'hypermarket' – with mostly non existent cell service inside. I have devices with Vodafone, 3 and now EE: none get service when in that store.

  6. Armin Grewe

    +Neville Hobson I keep my shopping list on Google Drive (I'm kind of old fashioned and don't use an app for that). Always have to make sure I load that in the car park, as soon as I walk into the store a message "connection to the server was lost" pops up…

  7. Neville Hobson

    +Armin Grewe heh, my wife has a shopping list app on her iPhone. It's great, except if she's in store and wants to add something to it…

    Works fine in Tesco as that store has the easiest wifi connectivity procedure of any I've seen so far: no text messaging, none of that, just authentication on your device linked to your Clubcard ID. That means they can also glean insight from your store visits.

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