We’re still probably a few years away from universal wi-fi in the developed world. Many municipal wireless networks are planned or in the works, but there are few currently existing. As we progress toward access-everywhere, both public institutions and private telecom companies (often working together) are finding creative ways to provide service in places we’d otherwise refer to as “dead zones.” In New York City, for example, some subway platforms now have free wi-fi service, but users need to watch (or more likely, ignore) a 15 second video before access the rest of the universe’s content.

But no one has been as creative a company in Mexico which decided to provide somewhat-free wi-fi in a handful of public parks. “Somewhat-free” because while it won’t cost users any money, they need to deposit something to get online. That something?

Dog poop.

Terra is a Spanish-language Internet portal (like Yahoo!) which has a large audience in Mexico. As part of a marketing campaign dreamed up by their agency, DDB Mexico, the company placed wi-fi hotspots in ten parks in the spring of 2012. To access the invisible beams, though, would-be customers had to pick up after their dogs and dump the waste in a big bin. The bin weighed the dog doo and rewarded everyone in the park with some free wireless minutes. The more poop scooped, the more minutes granted.

And, this being the Internet age, DDB and Terra made a promo video, available below, about their endeavor.



Of course, the system could be gamed. As CNET pointed out, the machines have “a simple scale to weigh the poop, so they would likely still work if people put rocks or trash in them instead.” Terra seemed OK with this — loophole-lovers who picked up litter would help keep the parks clean, too — but in any event, there may have been some informal policing. As Creativity-Online reported, the wi-fi hotspots weren’t left unattended: “to help consumers focus on the poop, however, hostesses manned each of the bins during the day, passing out bags for doggie droppings.”

Bonus Fact: What does “Wi-Fi” stand for? According to Boing Boing, absolutely nothing.

From the ArchivesMeal Ticket: The story of the subway-riding dogs of Moscow.

Related: A not-terrible wireless hotspot (which I actually own).