10 facts about WiFi in SA PDF Print E-mail

WiFi is on the increase in SA – both in terms of demand and availability, according to recent research by global networking firm Cisco Systems.

Here are 10 titbits on the popular wireless local area network technology and its uptake in SA.

1. The first WiFi-enabled flight in SA took place on 8 May, through a partnership between WirelessG, Mango and Vodacom. This is a first not only for Africa, but also for the entire Southern Hemisphere.

2. A number of local hotel groups have been offering their guests free WiFi since May, but usage is capped at 100MB.

3. Stellenbosch has begun piloting a free WiFi network to everyone in the town. While large downloads are prohibited, all other services are supported.

4. South African banking institutions offer free WiFi access for customers at certain branches.

5. As mobile users look at ways to save money, they will increasingly demand WiFi subscription options from their service providers.

6. SA has a mobile penetration rate of 105%, with 27% of rural users accessing the Internet on their mobile phones. Cellphone users see WiFi as a better option for surfing the Internet, on the whole, than their mobile network.

7. Vodacom's WiFi service is accessible at 650 WiFi hotspots locally. Vodacom contract, top-up and prepaid customers who have WiFi-enabled laptops, cellphones and personal digital assistants, but do not have 3G/HSDPA devices (or are in poor 3G/HSDPA coverage areas), can access broadband services using the network's WiFi.

8. Local WiFi service provider RedButton has devised a model that enables coffee shops and other WiFi hotspots to offer free wireless access. RedButton has 162 hotspot sites, with almost 25% of these offering free Internet access. Clients include Wimpy, Kauai and Primi Piatti.

9. According to Nashua Mobile, the time is becoming ripe for South African operators to offer “3G-to-WiFi” offload as an option to their subscribers. The company says SA can expect to see hotspot operators and cellular networks coming up with business models of WiFi offloading in the months to come.

10. Small towns in SA are setting the trend for free WiFi, while large metropolitan cities appear to be lagging behind. “Small time town” Knysna has a network that uses WiFi at over 200 hotspots in most business districts and various suburbs. To date, the network has been operational for 18 months. There are currently no limits on the access times, but a daily time limit of 45 minutes per user, per day is to be introduced. In selected locations access is free.

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