Uncapped Wi-Fi for under R250 per month

International WISPs with roaming agreements in SA may provide better value than local service providers

By - July 3, 2011

Wi-Fi connectivity in South Africa has typically occupied a price point between the cheaper per-gigabyte (GB) cost of ADSL and the more expensive per-megabyte (MB) pricing of mobile broadband.

With the increased competition in South Africa’s cellular market, kicked off with Cell C’s very competitive prepaid data bundles last year, Wi-Fi providers are getting some stiff competition from cellular operators.

Local Wi-Fi providers also seems to face competition from their international partners, one example of which is Boingo.

Boingo offers metered and unmetered month-to-month packages, some of which may be used in South Africa without incurring additional per-MB or per-hour costs.

Three of these plans may be of particular interest to South Africans: Boingo Global Combo, Boingo Europe Plus, and Boingo Mobile.

Boingo packages for SA users

Package Price Usage cap Roaming
Boingo Global Combo $59.00 (R396) 2,000 minutes Global
Boingo Europe Plus $34.95 (R235) Unmetered (AUP applies) MEA, $0.12 (R0.81) to $0.18 (R1.21) per min everywhere else
Boingo Mobile $7.95 (R53) Unmetered (AUP applies) Global, excluding certain partners

Boingo said that it has 754 hotspots available in South Africa and confirmed that it has roaming agreements with both AlwaysOn and WirelessG, adding that they are Boingo’s primary partners in South Africa.

Boingo’s deals do come with certain provisos, however.

  • Global Combo allows up to 2,000 minutes of use per month and allows a maximum of four laptops or mobile devices to be used on an account.
  • Europe Plus is unmetered but like all of Boingo’s plans it is governed by an acceptable use policy (AUP). This plan doesn’t allow devices other than laptops. Outside Europe, the Middle East and Africa you are charged $0.12 (R0.81) to $0.18 (R1.21) per minute.
  • Mobile is also unmetered and allows two mobile devices to be connected, but no laptops. Not all roaming partners allow mobile device access.

Boingo’s AUP is fairly standard, but South African users should take note of the following clauses:

  • It may not be used as a replacement for residential or commercial Internet access or for high volume data transfers, especially sustained high volume data transfers, hosting a web server, IRC server, or any other server
  • Customers are not permitted to schedule or program automated logins to the Services.

Boingo also provided a list of the six Swisscom Eurospot hotspots in South Africa where their Mobile plan doesn’t apply:

  • Radisson Blu Waterfront
  • Radisson Blu Gautrain
  • Park Inn Sandton
  • Radisson Blu Sandton
  • Radisson Blu Port Elizabeth
  • Rezidor Regional Office Africa

Why go local when you can have uncapped?

Asked why SA consumers would choose to buy access directly from AlwaysOn when they can get uncapped Wi-Fi from Boingo, Craig Stewart, product manager at Internet Solutions, explained that:

  • Boingo’s plans are purchased via debit orders and need to be cancelled (very simply, there is breakage in this model).
  • Time based packages can be an issue if your mobile device “auto connects” to a hotspot without you downloading anything (this happens regularly with connection managers).
  • AlwaysOn’s average per minute rate is around R0.14c per min.
  • AlwaysOn’s data packages range from R0.08c per MB to around R0.18c per MB for packages between 1 – 10GB.
  • AlwaysOn’s packages are prepaid.

WirelessG was contacted for comment but didn’t provide feedback by the time of publication.

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