DBN gets free fast WiFi

2014-06-18 00:00

DURBAN’s Florida Road has become the first of many urban streets that will get free, fast WiFi.

“Florida Road is a great place to demonstrate the possibilities that high-speed WiFi enables,” said Nathier Kasu, general manager at MWeb WiFi. “We’ve created a WiFi zone, rather than a WiFi hotspot,” he said.

WiFi hotspots tend to be single access points, with limited capacity and scalability as new users join the network, and a poorer overall performance.

However, the WiFi zone would feature multiple access points with more resilient infrastructure and powerful backhaul — resulting in consistent, fast Internet access.

“Our vision here is to augment the real-world experiences of restaurants, coffee shops, and hotels, with a digital experience that allows people to connect more, stream more, capture more and, simply, do more,” said Kasu.

MWeb planned to open WiFi zones around the country — these would be suited to carrying broadcast content such as video-on-demand and mobile TV.

LinkAfrica provided high-speed fibre links in key streets that have a high concentration of hospitality and entertainment activity such as Helen Joseph Road, Problem Mkhize Road, Florida Road and Chartwell Drive to name a few. Other properties include some hotels and hospitals across eThekwini.

Durban Tourism’s head Phillip Sithole said the WiFi expansion was exciting and would boost the Florida Road area, which is already a regular meeting venue for business people and local residents.

“Because the service is free we have started seeing Durban’s small business owners spending more time working and having meetings in Florida Road venues — for the coffee shops and lunch spots, business is booming,” said Kasu.

Better wireless connectivity has also enhanced the value proposition to the road’s venue owners.

Mthokozisi Khathi, better known as DJ Tira and owner of Uber Zulu, a grill and champagne lounge on Florida Road, said a big percentage of patrons make use of the WiFi.

“It has certainly added another dimension to the venue,” he said.

Kasu said associated services like real-time data analytics and location-based services would become possible in time.

This would enable venue owners to better understand their customers, and improve their services.

Over the coming months, more WiFi zones would be opened at hubs around South Africa, from airports, to shopping malls to popular social venues.

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