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Vodacom boosts mobile Internet access

Johannesburg, 26 Jun 2008
Read time 2min 30sec

Vodacom has introduced a service that allows subscribers who have WAP-enabled mobile phones to view all Internet sites more clearly.

The company's Mobile Internet service will ensure an accurate representation of the Internet on a mobile phone, through technology that adapts the computer-screen format of any Web site into a smaller, mobile phone-friendly format.

Vodacom says the service, which went live this morning, will cost a customer between 19c and R2 to view 10 to 20 Web pages, depending on the size of the Web site being accessed.

The content and design of the Web site that the mobile phone user visits is not changed, it says. However, the format is adjusted to suit the screen size and processing power of the host mobile phone.

Customers now effectively have the same experience of the Internet on their mobile phone as they do on a PC, says Vodacom MD Shameel Joosub.

Joosub says Vodacom's Mobile Internet will revolutionise the way South Africans use the Internet.

"It's important for customers to understand that, technologically, this is a whole new ball game compared to the limited mobile Internet access that has been available in SA up to now," he notes.

Disruptive force

However, the service has angered some subscribers, who say Vodacom has no right to inject banners above and below the content of the mobile phone screen, as they already pay for the Internet access.

"Has anyone at Vodacom heard of screen real estate? How long before that banner starts scrolling ads?" one MyADSL forum member asked.

A member of one wireless application service provider (WASP) adds that the service is disruptive, as it disables WAP-enabled sites that are not registered as WASP sites with the network.

"Vodacom says WASP sites registered with them will not be affected as we are able to white-list our sites, meaning they are accessed through a different proxy server, but there are literally thousands of other sites that are not registered as WASP sites," he says.

The person, who does not want his name revealed because of his company's relationship with Vodacom, says the only way for a consumer to get around this is by changing the access point name, the point at which a cellular phone accesses the Internet.

"However, 90% of mobile phone users do not know how to do this. What I recommend is that they contact Vodacom customer care to find out how this is done," he says.

Vodacom was unable to respond at the time of publication. However, a forum discussion on MyADSL indicates the banners are VLive navigation menus to help non-Web-savvy users, and are not commercial in any way. The service also provides savings on bandwidth, the forum says.

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