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JOHANNESBURG, April 2023 – Leading vehicle tracking and telematics company Netstar, a subsidiary of Altron, in partnership with Vodacom Business, are empowering taxi commuters across the country through the use of a free in-taxi connectivity service, WiTaxi.
Through this partnership, passengers can access free Wi-Fi from their personal devices during their daily commutes, turning often long travel time into productive time when they can get some work done and even connect with family and friends. The in-transit connectivity also addresses safety concerns for taxi owners, drivers and commuters mitigating risk as the platform can assist in mapping out road hazards such as potholes, traffic, and accidents.
For Vodacom, bringing about the taxi of the future through this partnership is an extension of their goal to connect the underserved and underbanked population of South Africa, improving connectivity for all. This partnership is also a crucial step towards closing the digital divide, bringing increased connectivity and the power of digital technology to a wider audience.
"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. 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," says Netstar Group Managing Director, Grant Fraser.
"This partnership speaks to how Vodacom Business can empower through technology solutions that drive progress and inspire innovation" says William Mzimba, Chief Officer for Vodacom Business.
How it works
Netstar's telematics devices installed in Toyota minibus taxis can double up as Wi-Fi routers. These devices have already been fitted to over 3 200 taxis across the country, and a potential to reach 48 000 connected taxis.
"In exchange for free high-speed Wi-Fi, commuters just need to watch short, 15-second adverts. This is an untapped and exciting opportunity for SMMEs to generate maximum impact and unlock economic activity by connecting with approximately 15-million people," says Brian Mdluli, Managing Director for WiTaxi.
With the technology infrastructure already in place to support connectivity, commuters simply need to connect seamlessly to the free Wi-Fi through the WiTaxi app. This service is completely safe and free to users, who can access as much as 1GB of uninterrupted Wi-Fi per day.
In line with their purpose of connecting for good, Vodacom is also looking to introduce a reward system linked to this network through their super app, VodaPay. Not only will this enable commuters to access a rich network of content, but it will also help simplify their lives through cashless transactions and the opportunity to turn trial into opportunities by completing daily chores, such as shopping whilst traveling, and be rewarded for it.
"Leveraging connectivity to create new revenue streams for entrepreneurs, taxi drivers and fleet owners at a time when business owners are looking to turn problems into new possibilities is how we take the industry and country further together," adds Mzimba.
When connected, commuters can stream their favourite shows, browse through social media, and use the time to stay up to date with what's happening at work.
"The technology allows commuters, drivers and operators access to a myriad of convenience, connectivity, and safety benefits. Internet connectivity has become an essential need for economic, social, cultural, political, and civic participation in the digital age. South Africans are increasingly aware of how connected technologies can improve their lives, and we must ensure that we evolve in tandem with market expectations," concludes Fraser.