Technology

Taxi commuters happy about free wifi access

Sapa

Commuters are pleased following the launch of WiTaxi, which will see 1 500 taxis and 50 taxi ranks providing free internet access to passengers.

Santaco chief executive Nkululeko Buthelezi declined to comment on how much would be spent on the project. (Oupa Nkosi and Kenny Leung, M&G)

Taxi commuters in Soweto are happy about getting free wifi access while travelling in taxis or waiting at the taxi rank, they said on Thursday.

Dorcas Mthiya from Diepkloof said the project was a good idea. She was on her way to catch a taxi at the Baragwanath taxi rank where one of the wifi access points had been installed. 

“Normally we get it at the mall or where we work. Here in Soweto there are hardly any wifi spots.” 

University of Johannesburg students Gcina Kelembe and Mbali Mnyandu said the free internet access would make life easier for them because they spent most of their time on their cellphones. Kelembe said they would use it for varsity work-related things and social media. 

During a ride to and from the taxi rank, transport MEC Ismail Vadi connected to the vehicle’s network and browsed through his emails. Another passenger played videos on Youtube. 

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) earlier launched the WiTaxi project, which would see 1 500 taxis and 50 taxi ranks providing free internet access to commuters within six months. 

Wifi access points
“We want to keep our 15-million daily commuters and attract more people back to using public transport in general and taxis in particular,” Santaco president Philip Taaibosch said. 

Subsequent phases would see between 4 000 and 5 000 wifi access points installed monthly. 

Santaco said the installation of wifi in all taxis and taxi ranks would be done within three years. The taxi association, Telkom and Telesure were partners in the project. 

Santaco chief executive Nkululeko Buthelezi said Telkom would provide the technical support for the project, while Telesure would contribute financially. He declined to comment on how much would be spent on the project. 

“It’s in the tens of millions.” Each commuter would get 50MB free a month. Once they connected their device with the taxi’s wifi network, they would be able to use the 50MB in any connected taxi or rank. 

Once that 50MB was used up, a prompt would let the user know that the usage had run out. Users who wanted more access would have an option to buy more. Earlier, Vadi described the project as innovative. “Man, I tell you. I would not have thought of an idea of getting internet into a taxi. It is a novel move,” he said. – Sapa

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