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Durban road becomes Wi-Fi street

MWEB has brought Wi-Fi to Florida Road in Durban in the form of a Wi-Fi zone, allowing more users to log onto the network without the problems of slow connectivity speeds often associated with Wi-Fi hotspots.

Durban’s iconic Florida Road – a bustling row of cafes, restaurants, clubs and hotels – framed within historical Edwardian structures, has become the first of many urban streets to be lit up by Wi-Fi.

Florida Road is a great place to demonstrate the possibilities that high-speed Wi-Fi enables,” says Nathier Kasu, General Manager at MWEB Wi-Fi. “We’ve created a Wi-Fi zone, rather than a Wi-Fi hotspot, to deliver a superior experience to users, wherever they may be on the high street.

Wi-Fi hotspots, he adds, tend to be single access points, with limited capacity and scalability as new users join the network, and a poorer overall performance. By contrast, a Wi-Fi zone features multiple access points, meshed together in a single indoor or outdoor environment with more resilient infrastructure and powerful backhaul – with the result being consistent, fast internet access.

Our vision here is to augment the real-world experiences of restaurants, coffee shops, and hotels, with a digital experience that allows people to connect more, stream more, capture more and, simply, do more,” explains Kasu.

As part of the broader Naspers Group, he adds that the MWEB Wi-Fi zones set to spring up around the country will be perfectly suited to carrying broadcast content such as video-on-demand and mobile TV.

LinkAfrica provided high-speed fibre links to create connectivity solutions in key streets that have a high concentration of hospitality and entertainment activity such as Helen Joseph Road (formally Davenport Road) Problem Mkhize Road (formally Cowey Road), Florida Road and Chartwell Drive to name a few. Other properties include selected hotels and hospitals across Ethekwini.

The initiative by MWEB to bring Wi-Fi to Florida Road and other properties in the area has been welcomed by Durban Tourism’s head Phillip Sithole. “As a city we are excited to see the expansion of super-fast uncapped WiFi across Durban. MWEB Wi-Fi will further boost the Florida Road area as it is also used as a meeting venue for business people as well as local residents.

“Because the service is free we have started seeing Durban’s small business owners spending more and more time working and having meetings in the Florida Road venues – so for the coffee shops and lunch spots, business is booming,” continues Kasu.

Being able to provide high-grade, reliable wireless connectivity has, in fact, significantly enhanced the value proposition to the roads venue owners.

Mthokozisi Khathi, better known as Dj Tira and the proprietor of Uber Zulu a popular grill and champagne lounge based on Florida Road says that a large percentage of patrons make use of the WiFi. “It has certainly added another dimension to the venue. People enjoy being connected, so by giving them a quick and easy option to do this: they feel more settled and comfortable when they are with us.

As the rollout gathers momentum and MWEB Wi-Fi start activating the service at other prominent urban haunts, Kasu says that associated services like real-time data analytics and location-based services will become possible. This will enable venue owners to better understand their customers, and further improve their experiences.

Over the coming months, he notes that consumers will start benefitting from a broadening network of Wi-Fi zones at strategic hubs around South Africa – from airports, to shopping malls to popular social venues.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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