Is this the end of free Wi-Fi?
The era of free Internet services through Wi-Fi in hotels, organisations, learning institutions and public venues like shopping malls and airports could be coming to an end.A firm known as 24online Sterlite Tech-Elitecore has come up with an Internet access management system that will help organisations get a return from Wi-Fi services. Arpan Patel, Sterlite Tech-Elitecore channel sales specialist in charge of Africa, says the platform offers various Wi-Fi monetisation options, including branding and marketing, advertisements... “For instance, if people are queuing in a banking hall, they can watch a 30-second video advertisement using the value added services or fill in a questionnaire and then go ahead to access free Wi-Fi valid for a certain period. Here, the bank doesn’t only provide “free Internet” but a next generation value-added interactive Internet service,” he says. An organisation can also ask people to register with relevant information or questions and in turn target them according to their needs. “You can communicate with masses, ask them to watch an educative video, take a survey, or provide them with a registration form with their phone numbers and email IDs that will enable you to verify that the user is genuine...,” says Patel. At airports and other public places where free Wi-Fi is provided, organisations can advertise tourism services and key attraction sites. “For instance, if Kisumu County provides Wi-Fi to the residents through a system like ours, we will enable them to see every person connecting and communicate with them through various means including forms, videos, music, emails and sms,” Patel says. 24online is specialised at managing Internet access whether it is wireless or wired. People can easily connect within hotels, hospitals, public venues and educational institutions. In Kenya, their biggest clients are Kenya Airports Authority. They help them to manage Internet services at airports across the country. After clients receive free Internet access for about 15 minutes, they can purchase one hour or more of the available services. Other major clients include Aga Khan Hospitals, Windsor Golf Hotel, Best Western Premier Hotels in Nairobi and Nairobi Safari Club Hotel. “Our duty is to provide a platform to our customers where they have full control of their Internet services, although we are not Internet service providers,” he says. 24online also helps in tracking down security issues since many clients think that all they need to do is to provide Wi_Fi access. When there is a problem, they blame the providers or tend to buy more bandwidth from service providers, increasing their costs, yet all they need is to manage the system internally. “Ours is to educate them on how they can manage, interact, monetise and most importantly, provide a good quality Internet experience to all using their services,” he says.
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