The surprising truth about free WiFi services in SA

Vodacom has revealed that less than 1% of their data customers who were given free WiFi data bundles actually used these bundles.

In recent legal documents filed by Vodacom in its ongoing battle with WirelessG, the mobile operator said that two WiFi marketing drives showed them that the demand for WiFi bundles was low.

  • In 2008 Vodacom gave 11,000 data customers free WirelessG WiFi data bundles as part of their monthly subscriptions. This free service was advertised to them, but only 585 (5.3%) bothered to start the registration process for the service. Even more surprising was that only 76 (0.69%) actually used the service.
  • In 2009 19,822 Vodacom advanced customers were given free WirelessG WiFi data bundles. This free service was advertised to them, but this time around only 128 (0.65%) started the registration process for the service. Only 7 (0.035%) people actually used the free WiFi service.

Vodacom further said that in 2008 only 6 people (out of the initial 11,000 customers) purchased data bundles after the initial free trial. In 2009 not a single subscriber decided to purchase a WiFi bundle after the free trial.

Cisco WiFi report

Inclusion of free public Wi-Fi in home broadband or mobile subscription
Inclusion of free public Wi-Fi in home broadband or mobile subscription

These findings should not come as a complete surprise. A recent Cisco report titled “What do consumers want from Wi-Fi?” highlighted that consumers do not often pay for WiFi.

The report, which surveyed 1,079 mobile users in the United States, stated that while one-third of mobile users take advantage of a public hotspot at least weekly, less than 1 percent of regular users pay for public Wi-Fi access.

Most public hotspot WiFi users get the service for free: “Remarkably, very few are paying for public Wi-Fi: three-quarters of regular users get their public Wi-Fi for free and 19 percent as part of a broadband subscription (8 percent), mobile plan (7 percent), or loyalty program (4 percent).”

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The surprising truth about free WiFi services in SA