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WiFi hotspots might be everywhere in South Africa, but actually accessing them is another story entirely.
Aside from initiatives like Project Isizwe and the Western Cape Free WiFi Project, hotspot access is generally expensive or requires you to be a customer on a partner network.
Now, a new project, dubbed view4mahala, claims to deliver “ad-funded free WiFi” access to South Africans.
How does it work?
Users are able to browse the internet via these hotspots, but are subjected to ads between page views and upon logging on to the hotspot, view4mahala operations director Sagie Naidu said.
“Two full-screen ads come up upon login and lasts between two and five seconds each and then after 10-15MB of usage,” Naidu said in an email response.
Naidu added that the view4mahala hotspots don’t require a password and have no cap.
The view4mahala representative said that access speeds vary from hotspot to hotspot, but that they’ve taken measures to ensure a decent experience.
“Our platform does not allow torrents, P2P and file sharing – it allows browsing the internet, small downloads, emails, social networks and mobile updates. This does not use up lot of data. However our hotspots have adequate speeds to make the internet experience a good one considering its free,” Naidu told Memeburn.
The representative said that they had 41 hotspots available so far, with more to come.
“Our free wifi rollout is in most FET colleges and student residences like Ladysmith, Newcastle, Dundee, Pietermaritzburg, Port Shepstone, Kokstad, Umzimkhulu, Durban and Johannesburg,” Naidu explained, saying they were also available in parks, pubs and restaurants.
What kind of usage is the service seeing right now though?
“In the month of May we have had over 1 million views,” he said, adding that they saw 107 000 daily users and over 24 000 unique users.
What about your information being sold though? Surely there’s more to the service than ads?
Naidu insisted that the only information they collect pertains to the number of users, unique users, number of ad views and type of device used to connect to the service.
Another concern we had came from the ad functionality, which sounds like a rather big security risk.
“The technology allows ads to be injected when the user moves from one web page to another and in between usage. No ads will be injected if a user is on a secure site like online banking. Ads will only be injected when a user is logged off,” the view4mahala executive said.
When asked about expansion, Naidu said that cash was the biggest obstacle.
“Our platform is scalable to cover large metro areas but funding is always an issue. We will however look at this as soon has funding becomes available.”
Featured image: Flickr/Nicolas Nova