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Free WiFi on Mango flights

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G-Connect In-Flight WiFi will be available free of charge to Mango guests on all enabled flights between Durban and Johannesburg from December to the end of January.

The airline plans to break connectivity records during this time and more than double its lead on the global uptake average of 8%. Mango’s G-Connect In-Flight Wi-Fi service was launched in May this year. The gratis period takes place during December through to 31 January 2013.

Mango expects to transport more than 75 000 Guests on the Durban and Johannesburg route between 11 December until 31 January 2013. ‚”In line with our current above average uptake ratio of approximately 9-10%, our aim is to break all records with a target of more or less 20% of traveller volume on the route,‚” says Mango CEO Nico Bezuidenhout. Should Mango achieve this, it would be the highest Wi-Fi usage ratio ever achieved on any route, anywhere.

With an up-time of over 95% and average speeds of 1Mbs on enabled aircraft, the G-Connect In-Flight Wi-Fi service exceeds many terrestrial line speeds. ‚”Even during beta-phase, system performance has been exceptional,‚” says CEO of G-Connect parent Wireless-G Carel van der Merwe, ‚”and we are confident that when we put the service to the ultimate test by inviting a legion of connections, it will stand up to the challenge.‚” Van der Merwe adds that the record attempt will play a pivotal role in ensuring technical readiness as the system exits its beta-phase.

Next year Mango and G-Connect plan to introduce on-demand entertainment, live television and limited games across its In-Flight Wi-Fi network. ‚”Imagine an experience beyond email, browsing and tweeting: a fully interactive and user-led entertainment basket available at the click of a mouse or a swipe on a tablet,‚” says Bezuidenhout, who adds that G-Connect In-Flight Wi-Fi marked the beginning of a new phase in the airline’s history, a future-focused path of network and fleet expansion as well as the introduction of more technology to enhance Mango’s overall travel experience.

Recently Mango became the first South African airline to offer a booking and payment channel through its mobi-site with plans afoot to launch an iPad application soon.

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Telcos want one face

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The investments that telecommunications service providers are making in reshaping their online properties into customer-centric portals reflects the growing maturity of self-service and Internet uptake in the industry, says KEVIN MELTZER of Consology.

Many telcos around the world are overhauling their websites to offer customers more holistic portals that give them a single point of entry into the organisation.

They are doing so because they recognise that service will be a key point of differentiation for their businesses in a market that is becoming increasingly competitive. They have also realised that they have a major opportunity to shift customers away from expensive contact centres towards low-cost electronic channels.

In the past, most telecommunications operators ran multiple sites across multiple domains and subdomains. These web-based properties were built around the way that telcos structured their own businesses rather than around the needs of the customer. But we are now seeing the leading operators take a more user-centric approach to the way that they design their web and mobile sites.

This coincides with a change in the industry from slicing customers into numerous segments and then serving them across a range of functional and product areas. For example, many operators split customers into prepaid and postpaid segments or voice and data users, distinctions that are becoming less meaningful in a world of technology convergence. They now want to present a single face to the customer rather than servicing the subscriber through silos.

These changes are starting to percolate through to operators’ customer service and sales strategies. Telcos are starting to pull together disparate products and services that once resided across multiple sites into customer service portals.

These sites put a wide range of information at the subscriber’s fingertips, he adds. Increasingly, for example, subscribers can log directly into their accounts from the operator’s homepage and then access a wealth of services and information. This marks an evolution from the fractured and inconsistent customer experience of the past.

Leading operators are even thinking about how their Self-Service platforms should be integrated with social media strategies to allow customers to pay their electronic bills or top up airtime with a single click from within a social network.

Whereas Self-Service portals on telco sites were once purely about account management functions, they increasingly offer far richer functionality. In addition to allowing subscribers to pay their bills and check their account information, they are also increasingly becoming the first stop for service and commerce.

Operators have started to recognise that splintering their e-commerce, service and account management functions simply makes no sense. Customers want to be able to do everything through one interface rather than needing to visit two or three Web sites, or eventually possibly needing to phone a call centre or visit a store for certain transactions.

Integrated and easy to use online customer service channels will be central for telco operators who want to be competitive in the markets of tomorrow. They form an advantage in an industry where it will be customer relationships rather than cost or service that drive loyalty and purchasing decisions.

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Talk for less with MWEB Talk

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Today, MWEB announced its consumer VoIP package called MWEB Talk, which allows users to make free network calls and get discounted rates made to landlines and mobile phones.

MWEB, today launched its new Voice over IP (VoIP) offering to South African consumers. The service, MWEB Talk, will offer users’ free on network calls to fellow MWEB Talk users’ and cheap calls to landline and mobile phone numbers. This follows the success and demand of the ISP’s existing VoIP products in recent months.

‚”We have seen a noticeable transformation in users’ Internet behaviour with consumers wanting services that complement their ADSL connectivity solution. We have seen phenomenal growth and by the end of the year will deliver over 100 million minutes on our VoIP platform,‚” says Carolyn Holgate, General Manager of MWEB Connect, the ISP’s Consumer and Small Office/ Home Office Division.

MWEB has made significant investments in its infrastructure and VoIP has been prioritised on its network to ensure performance and stability of the MWEB Talk service for both businesses and consumers.

‚”In addition to the high quality of the service, MWEB Talk is also simple to set-up and users’ should experience a significant reduction in their telephone bills. By implementing a VoIP service consumers and small businesses can cut their monthly telecommunication bills by up to 55% to landline and mobile numbers,‚” says Holgate.

With no subscription fee, existing MWEB customers can log into their MWEB account, register for the service and download the application for PC and Mac as well as mobile applications that turn an iPhone, Android, and Nokia smartphone into a VoIP phone. Customers will also be able to purchase a Desktop VoIP Handset for R99 which will be HD voice ready and will support multi-extensions.

‚”We believe that VoIP is the future of telephony in South Africa and we are extremely excited to see the consumer market shift into the VoIP space,‚” concludes Holgate.

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