COMPUTER BUSINESS REVIEW

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Issue Date: May 2004 (es)

Commercialised hotspot platform for South African market

1 May 2004

Recently Transtel concluded an alliance agreement with Wireless G to roll out public WiFi hotspots.
This service will not exclude previously disadvanged areas and will enhance mobility throughout South Africa. For tourists in Soweto it means e-mailing a digital photo. For a globetrotting executive it means sitting in a hotspot and e-mailing the management team while watching the World Cup Series over streaming video. For the travelling salesman it means getting customised quotations approved by headquarters while on the road. For the enabled venue it means more customers and a value added service.
"Both companies have identified public hotspot services where customers can have broadband Internet access. This is an exciting opportunity. The alliance will roll out 100 high-profile public venues before the end of 2004," said Karl Socikwa, CEO of Transtel and chairperson of the Interim Board of the SNO.
"Transtel has identified hotspot services as a very specialised field and decided to complement its new offering in alliance with an operator that has a reliable platform," said Karl Socikwa, CEO of Transtel and Chairperson of the Interim Board of the SNO.
"Users can expect to gain wireless broadband Internet access at various types of hotspot locations, such as along national roads, and at airports, convention centres, hotels, cafés, restaurants and marinas. The Transtel/Wireless G alliance has already successfully installed the first hotspots, covering all the restaurants in the Canal Walk Shopping Centre in Cape Town. Stellenbosch University Business School has also been amongst the first to form a business alliance and enabled the well-known Bellvista Hotel with the new Transtel/Wireless G hotspot services. More announcements will be made soon on other large deployment activities," said Carel van der Merwe, CEO of Wireless G.
Although all indications are there that the market will shift to the non-corporate market soon, the alliance is first enabling locations where the corporate road warrior, the international tourist and local communities can reliably and predictably locate a hotspot.
Customers can directly purchase online airtime and/or prepaid vouchers. The alliance will also offer its hotspot network access services on a wholesale basis. The wholesale offering will also simplify access for users by allowing them to sign on to the network using their existing ISP or mobile operator credentials. It will sell to Internet service providers (ISPs), mobile operators and corporate managers who will resell the services to end-users. Large corporations with extensive user bases who want to manage their own user profiles and security will also be able to integrate. In order to retail the service, these operators can integrate with the Wireless G platform. This will extend the ISPs' existing services into the mobile access environment.
This offering in South Africa is fully integrated with other international hotspots in the GBIA network and users will enjoy seamless international roaming. Users can also use the same account to roam on various hotspots in South Africa. Where venue owners and small service providers have already taken a leadership approach to enable their locations with WiFi Internet access as value-added services, these venues can become part of this advanced business model by integrating with the Wireless G platform. The platform offers an online access portal to venue owners and small service providers from where access to the venues can be monitored. The model has the advantage of being able to consolidate networks in a single global network with a single message, "WiFi here".
According to Pyramid Research, the international market will reach more than 707 million users by 2007. According to market watcher In-Stat/MDR, in 2005 about 95% of notebooks will feature WiFi support as the standard.
Mobile computing devices, broadband access, wireless networks and computing power that will be embedded in almost every device in the next four years are converging into a global network that will enable people to use the Internet just about anywhere and at anytime. No facet of human activity is untouched. This is making the Internet a force of social change penetrating homes, schools, offices, factories, hospitals and governments. The convergence of the Internet, electronic commerce and wireless technology has created the basis for the rapid global diffusion of mobile commerce. The adoption of WiFi has become an international standard for mobile roaming-related services and is growing fast in other parts of the world. It has recently become relevant for the South African market.
For more information contact Carel van der Merwe, Wireless G, 011 326 1180.


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