Vodacom starting to roll out The Grid

The GRID was officially launched in beta phase last year with an invitation only system. This has now changed and the system is open to everyone with the marketing campaign kicking off at the University of Pretoria and the University of Johannesburg.

Vodacom initially launched Meep, a real-time, presence-based Instant Messaging service, and followed that by launching The GRID which allows South Africans to enter the location-based social networking space from their cellphones.

Currently in beta testing, The GRID, when activated, displays the user’s approximate position on a local street map on their phone, locates friends in the neighbourhood and allows them to leave multimedia messages connected to the places they visit via virtual map tags (or blips as they are called on The GRID).

The GRID can be used by all South African mobile phone users on most phones currently on the market.

For Vodacom subscribers the service utilises a network-positioning system based on local mobile phone transmitters to determine their approximate position and displays data via a WAP site or JAVA application.

Subscribers to other networks, that are yet to launch Location Based Services, can manually position themselves. Other than regular data connection charges The GRID is free to join and access.

The application has been developed in South Africa by Vodacom and is the first local example of what is predicted to be a major new global trend of location based social networking.

Although funded by Vodacom, The GRID will operate as an independent, network-neutral brand. Revenue is expected to come from advertising, subscription fees for enhanced services and also transactional revenue between users.

The GRID includes features that will be familiar to users of social networking services such as Facebook or Myspace and communication tools such as instant messaging or chat.

“With the GRID’s location-based services we were able to add another dimension to the global online social networking phenomena. It’s the first of its kind in the country and really taps into making the most of your core localised contacts networks – almost like an area specific guide book with recommendations from your friends,” said Rick Joubert, Executive Head of The GRID.



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Vodacom starting to roll out The Grid