MWEB has announced an exclusive partnership with Fon, the world's largest WiFi network. The deal gives MWEB ADSL customers, with a Fon-enabled router, the opportunity to join a global community of 12 million WiFi users who act as a hotspot and a growing local community that shares connections.
Fon, the global WiFi network, founded in 2006 in Spain but now represented on four continents, is made up of Fon community members, who share a part of their bandwidth as a separate WiFi signal. In return, Fon members are able to securely access any other Fon WiFi hotspot both locally and globally.
Derek Hershaw, CEO of MWEB, says "we have been looking for a way to broaden our customers access to WiFi beyond their home or office network".
"The new Fon relationship will complement our existing WiFi zones and will give our customers access to cost effective, quality mobile Internet access and a growing network."
Recent trends highlight that South Africans are increasingly more mobile, with Cisco predicting that mobile traffic will account for 26% of all South African data traffic by 2016. This, combined with Orange Telecom's view that 50% of international mobile data will be delivered via WiFi, notes MWEB.Fon COO Alex Puregger says MWEB's base of more than 320 000 customers could potentially all become Fon members. He explains Fon compliments MWEB's local fixed broadband capabilities with a global WiFi network and a mobile opportunity to increase its footprint outside the home and business.
"Mobile, and specifically WiFi, is seen as the future driver for Internet connectivity on the African continent and globally. We are very confident of the growth potential in sub-Saharan Africa and see South Africa as a base for expansion into the rest of the continent."
Puregger adds Fon will eventually have created a crowd-sourced WiFi network where everyone who contributes, connects for free. "We are thinking of it as global Uncapped WiFi."
Using their ADSL login details, MWEB customers with a Fon-enabled router can immediately access the rapidly growing network of WiFi hotspots, which currently includes MWEB WiFi Zones and Always On hotspots. In the future, as more MWEB Fon customers sign up, so the MWEB Fon network grows and more than 30 000 hotspots across the country are envisaged by the end of 2014.
"As broadband costs decrease and more users and sites come online, MWEB will take South Africa into an unlimited mobile Internet future. We want to fundamentally change what people expect from mobile connectivity. In MWEB's vision of the future, our users will never have to adjust how they consume the Internet just because they aren't at home or in the office," Hershaw says.
To immediately increase the residential and small office footprint, existing and new MWEB ADSL customers will be offered a free Fon upgrade, including a Fon-enabled WiFi router and WiFi range extender as of today, says MWEB.
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