Netstar & WiTaxi bring free internet to thousands of taxis countrywide

  • Telematics and vehicle tracking company Netstar has partnered with WiTaxi and Vodacom to bring “free” WiFi to thousands of Toyota taxis across the country.
  • All taxi passengers have to do to access 1GB of WiFi is download the WiTaxi app and watch a 15-second advert.
  • Vodacom Business says that it is looking to link its VodaPay Rewards functionality to WiTaxi in some way.

Telecom subsidiary Vodacom Business has joined forces with Johannesburg-based vehicle tracking and telematics company Netstar to bring WiFi devices to Toyota taxis across South Africa. The devices will allow passengers to access free internet services via provider WiTaxi.

Netstar’s telematics devices installed in Toyota minibus taxis, often also used for vehicle tracking, can double up as WiFi routers. These devices have already been fitted to more than 3 200 taxis across the country, with Netstar eyeing a potential 48 000 connected taxis.

Netstar’s telematics devices will connect to WiTaxi’s internet services for passengers aboard the taxis to use.

“Through this partnership, passengers can access free Wi-Fi from their personal devices during their daily commutes, turning often lengthy travel time into productive time, when commuters can get work done and even connect with family and friends,” reads a press statement sent to Hypertext.

“The in-transit connectivity also addresses safety concerns for taxi owners, drivers, and commuters, mitigating risk, as the platform can assist in mapping road hazards such as potholes, traffic and accidents,” it adds.

All that taxi commuters need to do to access the internet via the WiTaxi is to download the WiTaxi app and watch 15-second adverts to get up to 1GB of free data per day. This is a further way for WiTaxi to monetise its services.

WiTaxi managing director Brian Mdluli says that an audience of approximately 15 million taxi commuters can be reached via these adverts, and WiTaxi is looking for partners, especially SMMEs.

Vodacom is also looking to introduce a reward system linked to this network through its super app, VodaPay.

“South Africa’s taxi industry is responsible for more than 60% of daily commutes, making it an integral part of the country’s transport sector and a significant economic player,” says Netstar Group managing director Grant Fraser.

“We are truly excited about this partnership with WiTaxi and Vodacom and believe that the connected commute is going to be a game changer for South African taxi passengers, drivers and even operators.”

The name “WiTaxi” has come up in the past, and features in news articles from as far back as 2014. It seems the WiTaxi project began with enormous hype, initially had the involvement of Telkom in some capacity, and took a stumble around 2016 when WiTaxi was still looking for devices to spread its internet services.

It seems the company has found partners in this regard through Vodacom Business and Netstar, but the press release isn’t too clear about what Vodacom’s involvement is other than an added functionality with VodaPay.

We hope at least that the new service will save taxi commuters some data during their daily trips.

[Image – Photo by Sipho Ndebele on Unsplash]


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