Free Wi-Fi on South African buses

15 February 2017

A bus in Algoa Bay, South Africa equipped with free on-board Wi-Fi.

The Algoa Bus Company in South Africa has equipped its buses with free on-board Wi-Fi.

Whether sourced via LAN, Wi-Fi or mobile, no one can reach the internet without data.

But, as South Africa-based RF specialist Otto Wireless Solutions points out, the paradox is that companies who supply data need to make profits from their sales, while consumers using that data to reach the internet want them for free.

That results in two forces moving in opposite directions, says the firm.

According to Otto, the solution is advertising-sponsored free Wi-Fi.

This is where suppliers and users of data meet and everyone’s needs are satisfied.

And this is where proprietary technology from Moben comes in. The Polish technology specialist has developed View2Surf (V2S), a platform for mobile operators which facilitates advertising while users surf the internet.

Operating out of Bloemfontein in South Africa, Ntosamo is an accredited distributor of V2S.

The company specialises in selling advertising space on the internet, using Wi-Fi as the medium, and integrates Moben’s platform to any Wi-Fi hotspot.

Anyone using the hotspot to browse the internet with a mobile device is shown full screen adverts after consuming a certain amount of data.

Every time the user clicks on the advert or even skips it, a sale is completed and the data are duly paid for. 

Spurred on by its experiences, Ntosamo has now ventured into free public transport Wi-Fi working closely with a number of partners including Udy Net, Otto Wireless Solutions, Algoa Bus Company, Afrihost and W-Link. 

When asked about their profitability, business sustainability and how they could attract back younger passengers, bus operating companies revealed that Wi-Fi was seen as a value-added service.

Ntosamo, in collaboration with WISP Udy Net, approached W-Link for the supply of a robust bus router that would cater for the encryption of V2S into its software.

After a six-month integration and testing phase, W-Link’s WL-R220 router was approved for use in a proof of concept. This POC was run with a local bus operator in Bloemfontein for a three-week period, covering major intercity routes in South Africa.

W-Link’s WL-R220 router is at the heart of the wireless system.

W-Link’s WL-R220 router is at the heart of the wireless system.

The results were beyond initial expectations, culminating in a commercially viable solution that could be tailored and offered to any public transport company in the country. 

The POC findings were taken to Algoa Bus Company in Port Elizabeth and the project to install Wi-Fi into its 410 buses was approved in October 2016.

As the local W-Link distributor, Otto Wireless Solutions supplied the routers, while Afrihost supplied the data.

Ntosamo says it is now in advanced discussions with many other public transport operators in South Africa, where corporate sponsorship for the routers from would-be advertisers is currently being discussed