Wi-Fi access provider AlwaysOn intends targeting consumers in lower living standards measures (LSMs) to greatly ramp up the number of people using its services. In the process, it is hoping to lure customers away from the “more expensive” data plans of the mobile networks.
Key to achieving this will be making it easier for users without credit cards to access AlwaysOn hotspots. Soon consumers will be able to buy access to the service using prepaid or post-paid airtime.
Hayden Lamberti, who heads up AlwaysOn, said Wi-Fi bundles purchased using cellular airtime won’t be as cheap as those bought using credit cards because of the “high cost” involved. But he said the bundles will still be considerably cheaper than using mobile data.
AlwaysOn, which is owned by Dimension Data’s Internet Solutions, intends offering both recurring and once-off payments using airtime from all of the mobile operators, with a validation process on prepaid to check that the user has sufficient funds to make the purchase. The new payment option is expected to go live by the end of the month.
Though pricing hasn’t been released yet, Lamberti said 350MB of data is likely to fetch about R15. “That is well below the data pricing from the mobile network operators,” he said.
Although AlwaysOn’s hotspots are predominantly located in upmarket venues such as shopping centres, restaurants, airports and hotels, Lamberti expects that partner Vast Networks — the open-access Wi-Fi specialist co-owned by Dimension Data and Naspers — will soon begin rolling out more hotspots in townships and other areas where there is surging demand for data.
Lamberti said many of the users who come onto AlwaysOn network utilise only a free daily allocation of bandwidth, often to access jobs websites and educational materials. Converting these users into paying customers is crucial to AlwaysOn’s growth plans, he said.
“Only 16% of the population has access to a credit card,” he said, explaining why the airtime option is important.
Earlier this year, the company announced that it had introduced prepaid cards at Pick n Pay stores, allowing people to buy Wi-Fi Internet access without a credit card.
With the airtime buying option, AlwaysOn will get access to many more people, Lamberti said.
“People don’t pay us because they don’t want to. These new payment mechanisms mean people will pay us if they have the ability to do so… We can now target those environments where we haven’t traditionally been strong. We can now target lower LSM groups with an effective business case,” he said.
“Wi-Fi is about those low LSMs; about the urban youth. Those are the people who are going to be using our network.” — © 2016 NewsCentral Media