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The rising popularity of Wi-Fi across Africa Wi-Fi is the connectivity solution of choice for so many of today’s devices. Liquid Telecom examines why the network technology is growing in importance to businesses and consumers across Africa. HERE ARE A number of reasons why Wi-Fi has established a central role for itself in the modern communications ecosystem. It is the default wireless communication protocol used by laptops, tablets and smartphones. At the end of most broadband connections there is a Wi-Fi access point, as it is the cheapest and most ubiquitous way to connect non-wired devices to the Internet. As such it is the primary method of connection to the Internet in offices and homes around the world. In public venues, Wi-Fi acts as a complementary network technology and Wi-Fi offloading – the migration of data from mobile to Wi-Fi networks - is becoming a popular way to help quench the insatiable thirst for mobile data worldwide. In fact, more traffic was offloaded from mobile networks on to Wi-Fi than remained on mobile networks in 2016, according to the latest Cisco Visual Networking Index. The importance for guest Wi-Fi is growing to the business world, where it is a recognised way of driving value and brand loyalty. In the case of Africa, public Wi-Fi hotspots have also proved to be an effective way to improve Internet access to underserved communities.
A Wi-Fi hub for Africa Behind the scenes, network operators such as Liquid Telecom are discovering new ways to work with mobile operators and ISPs to maximise the business benefits of Wi-Fi networks. For example, Liquid Telecom offers a service called Africa Wi-Fi Hub. This allows Liquid Telecom’s wholesale customers to access its public Wi-Fi hotspots, enabling their subscribers to connect to hundreds of locations across some of Africa’s fastestgrowing economies. It also allows operators to make their public Wi-Fi hotspots available to some of Liquid Telecom’s roaming partners, joining a global network of public Wi-Fi hotspots quickly and easily.
The importance for guest Wi-Fi is growing to the business world, where it is a recognised way of driving value and brand loyalty. 16 Communications Africa Issue 3 2017
Liquid Telecom's partnership with GlobalReach Technology aims to help African businesses manage Wi-Fi for their customers. (Photo: Victoria Chudinova)
The hub will help to encourage Wi-Fi roaming across the region, enabling mobile operators to offer international coverage at far lower costs than mobile roaming and providing connectivity for international travellers. As more local ISPs and operators join Africa Wi-Fi Hub, Wi-Fi roaming is set to accelerate across the region, enabling more subscribers to easily and securely connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots and avoid costly data roaming charges.
The mutual benefits of free Wi-Fi Reliable free Wi-Fi is becoming an expectation of visitors to many venues, but the benefits of providing this service are mutual for both business and customer. Wi-Fi can be used as a platform for personalised and location-based communication either through a Wi-Fi portal webpage or through the customer’s own app, which can be triggered based on the presence of the user in a given location. Combined with insights into customer behaviour, Wi-Fi can drive additional sales and enable new revenue streams through proximity marketing. Earlier this year, Liquid Telecom entered into a partnership with GlobalReach Technology that is helping African businesses deploy and manage Wi-Fi for their customers. The managed service enables the smallest cafes to the largest shopping malls and hotels to offer
Wi-Fi securely to their customers. It is also being used by governments and municipalities to offer free Wi-Fi to citizens in a reliable, cost-effective manner, providing a platform to deliver e-government services.
A hotbed of hotspots Improving broadband access is widely recognised as stimulating economic and social growth. The transition to a knowledge-based economy brings with it new business models and industries, while at the same time transforming how public services, education and healthcare can operate. For this reason, a growing number of African governments are introducing free Wi-Fi initiatives to underserved areas. In Kenya, Liquid Telecom has been working alongside the Kenyan government to introduce Wi-Fi networks to underserved towns up and down the nation. The first such initiative of its kind in the country was launched in Nakuru County, which attracts up to 30,000 unique users a day. It was recognised as Best Wi-Fi Deployment to Connect the Unconnected in a Rural Environment at the World Wi-Fi Day Awards in June 2016. The rollout of more public hotspots across Africa looks set to boost economic activity and education further over the coming years. ✆
For more information on Liquid Telecom’s Wi-Fi offering visit www.liquidtelecom.com