THE INTERNET OF
How WiFi and web
connections in public
spaces are enabling a
more connected world.
An MWEB Trends Report
As the internet becomes more avail-
able in public spaces, innovative new
services and applications are opening
up more possibilities to connect with
the world around us. In many cases
WiFi is the key element that makes
innovation possible. As a developing
market we still have some way to go,
but the Internet Of Everywhere is
starting to become a reality for South
Africans. This trend report looks at
how global developments in WiFi
access and connectivity in public
spaces will shape the way in which we
use the internet here in South Africa.
@MWEBCONNECT / #MWEBWIFI
PEOPLE CONNECTED AT
1999 Home, work or an internet café.
2014 Anywhere with WiFi or a 3G connection.
The International Space Station was recently
connected so you don’t even need to be on earth
to post a Selfie.
PEOPLE CONNECTED USING
1999 Chunky looking laptops (except the still funky
looking Apple iBook) Desktop PCs (actually these
were more like towers under the desk) Brick like
mobile phones (except the Nokia 7110 which
looked like something out of the Matrix).
2014 Laptops, PCs, Smartphones, Feature phones,
Smartwatches, Tablets. You name it someone has
probably web-enabled it.
HOW FAST IS THE INTERNET
1999 Although DSL and cable were being introduced,
almost everyone in South Africa that was
connected, was on a 56KB dial-up line.
In Japan the first ever mobile internet service was
launched called i-mode.
2014 ADSL speeds of up to 40MB per second, with
a 100MB capacity currently being trialled.
1999 Geocities the customisable web page service
which Yahoo bought for $3 billion (now closed).
Myspace launches (and is still going apparently)
2014 Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+,
Instagram, Reddit, LinkedIn, Whatsapp, Snapchat,
Foursquare, Soundcloud, need we go on?
WHAT DO PEOPLE TALK ABOUT
ON THE WEB?
1999 Dancing babies.
The value of the latest internet start-up to go
public (It’s final months before the dotcom bubble
People (allegedly) hacking into the White House/
The value of the latest social media start-up to go public.
US government (allegedly) hacking into people’s data.
Photos of food you’re about to eat on Instagram.
HOW MUCH HAS THE
IN 15 YEARS?
Although the internet has been around longer, 1999 was really
a turning point. One of the key events was the first availability
of WiFi in the home (although it took a few more years to
become common). So how far have we come since 1999?
HOW DO SOUTH AFRICAN
MOBILE USERS ACCESS
use WiFi in
use WiFi at Home
Those who use WiFi use a high percentage of their data on WiFi, but the majority
of consumers currently access on the go data via their mobile network. *TNS Mobile data study 2013
INTERNET CAPABLE DEVICES
OWNERSHIP & LIKELIHOOD TO BUY.
Along with smartphones, tablets are the devices which are most desired and have a high intention to buy.
*TNS Mobile data study 2013
SEATTLE REDUCES POWER
The City of Seattle has launched a pilot project
to analyse and reduce energy usage. Data is
collected from hundreds of data sets collected
automatically from a number of buildings in
the downtown area. From this data, recom-
mendations on power savings can be made –
with the aim to reduce power usage by 25%.
CONNECTED STREET SIGNS
Points, developed by BreakfastNY in the US,
is a WiFi enabled digital sign. Its information
and physical direction changes are based on
trending locations on Foursquare and other
Using a combination of wirelessly connected
sensors in parking spots and apps, US com-
pany Streetline is reinventing parking. Their
research indicates that up to 10% of traffic in a
city has reached its destination and is circling
the block looking for parking (and adding to
congestion) so this has real potential to get
cities moving again.
GOODBYE RUSH HOUR
Lyon in France has partnered with IBM to
create a traffic management system. Using re-
al-time traffic data, controllers can adjust traffic
signals to keep traffic flowing.
What is a “Smart City“? Essentially it comes down
to the clever use of resources (including human and
social capital), as well as the “smart” implementation
of transport and ICT infrastructures to fuel sustainable
economic development, while encouraging a better
standard of living for the citizens.
Square (the brainchild of one of the
founders of Twitter) is a payments
service which allows your mobile
device (a tablet or smartphone)
to accept card transactions and
manage data around transactions.
Perfect for small business owners
This US online grocery store has
virtual shelves in public spaces such
as subways in Philidelphia. Shoppers
download an app which can be used
to scan pictures of grocery products
on a poster which are then delivered
to your home.
Not the most predictable name to
appear here perhaps. Scrabble WiFi
launched in Paris in 2013. Gamers
using a mobile app could convert
their word scores into free WiFi
WITH VIRTUAL SERVICES.
Countries that adopted WiFi early and at
scale have seen massive shifts in how the
internet is used in public spaces; from how
shops are run to how leisure time is spent.
These are just some of the game changers
that are riding the wave of innovation.
Starbucks are rolling out smart
coffee machines that use a web
connection to remember regular’s
coffee preferences. Also in the works
are connected fridges that can
detect when milk is off.
Toothtag is an app (currently
Android only) that allows you to
automatically perform actions on
your smartphone when you enter
specific WiFi zones. So for example
changing your voicemail re-direct
in your home WiFi, or actioning a
Facebook check-in whenever you
visit your favourite coffee shop.
The Lightwave is a wristband
that gives performers and event
manager’s instant feedback on the
mood of a crowd. It also provides
data on temperature, audio levels
and movements of people. The
information enables the events
team to deal with problems quickly
and potentially alter a performance
before the booing starts.
CROWDS & FLASH
This innovation will make paper
tickets feel very 20th century. Users
simply upload a selfie via an app
and then show it at the door where
they can be greeted by name. Much
more personal and a valid excuse for
taking pictures of yourself.
Avoid Humans is a smartphone
app launched at this year’s SXSW in
Texas. It tracks and shares the places
at the festival with the least amount
of people. As SXSW is so crowded,
this helps festival goers find quieter
spots and avoid the crushes.
The Highlight app runs quietly in
the background as you go about
your day, sourcing information
about the people around you. If
your friends are nearby, it will notify
you. If someone interesting crosses
your path, it will tell you more about
them. While it’s not specifically
designed for events, it really comes
into its own in large crowds such as
at conferences. It’s not exactly the
best app for introverts but it is an
interesting way of meeting people
that might share your interests.
The Live.ly app allows concert goers
to buy a recording of the show
they’re watching straight from the
mixing desk. This provides great
added value from the gig organisers
for music fans, extra income for
bands and venues, and reduces poor
quality pirated video.
Many events, from concerts to conferences, now have a parallel virtual
event taking place with conversations forming; strangers meeting each other
and content being shared. The best examples of this trend bring together
individuals into a temporary community connected by a common experience.
COFFEE SHOPS &
Six out of ten local entrepreneurs*
prefer to work out of coffee shops
because they are an easy location to
access WiFi and are good places to
work for a few hours.
Co-working spaces are a growing
trend globally, providing not only
the coffee and WiFi, but going
beyond that and offering other
services for entrepreneurs. Part of
the popularity is also the networking
opportunity and social experience of
working alongside other entrepre-
BIG DEMANDS ON
Seven out of ten entrepreneurs use
an average of five gigabytes of data
a month, while more heavy users
average between eight and ten.
The five gig users attribute their low
usage to “free WiFi” dependency
reducing the cost of their paid WiFi.
60% of entrepreneurs find that
they can go through 500MB in a
day when working from remote
DAY IN THE COFFICE.
WHAT ARE THEY
Most entrepreneurs find that the
bulk of their application usage is
mail, browsing and using cloud-
based services. Downloading and
sending attachments makes up the
bulk of their data usage, as well as
file sharing on Dropbox and similar
applications. Others also mention
catching up on the day’s events
through social media and keeping
up with their respective industries.
USER-FRIENDLY APPS FOR
ENTREPRENEURS ON THE MOVE:
Many entrepreneurs work from public places that
offer internet connectivity: it makes a good alternative
meeting place if they don’t have an office; they’re often
on the move; and it quite often satisfies the simple need
of being around other people.
www.dropbox.com [file sharing]
www.google.com/drive [file sharing/back-up]
www.teuxdeax.com [simple to do lists]
www.wunderlist.com [to do lists]
www.asana.com [free project management tool]
www.evernote.com [note taking application]
www.freshbooks.com [cloud accounting]
www.ilovecoffee.co.za [where to go, what to order]
*COFFICE = Coffee Shop used as an office
This fictional day in the life of a South African entrepreneur and internet user illustrates
how we use different devices and ways of connecting for different situations and tasks.
A DAY IN THE LIFE.
Checks Waze, to avoid
traffic on way into town.
Navigates to restaurant
using Google Maps.
1pm - 6pm
7.30pm - 11pm
Uses Waze app
to check traffic.
Checks tasks for the day using Asana.
Checks-in on Facebook.
Uploads files that have been worked on remotely.
Uses Whatsapp to discuss evening meal.
Checks recipe on Food24.com
Uses Tune In to play a music radio station.
Use Flipboard app to check new articles.
Shares Instagram photo of meal.
Uses Evernote to capture notes from a meeting.
Uses Dropbox to work on documents.
Updates tasks on Asana.
Uses Evernote to record meeting notes.
Uses Skype to call supplier.
Checks Facebook and Instagram.
Marks complete tasks on Asana.
Watches YouTube videos.
The wearable tech trend is moving fast from just a fad
to a reality. It is a world of devices and apps that gather
data on us while we are on the move. From startup
companies, to established giants such as Google and
Nike, everyone is getting in on the wearable tech trend.
Most wearable tech will require internet connectivity
creating an “always on” world.
HOW IT CHANGES
We couldn’t not mention the daddy
of wearables from Google. Not yet
available to the general public, but
it has been available to selected
developers for the last year. Google
Glass augments your vision with
information from the internet and
can also record and stream what you
This tiny device tracks your physical
activity (including sleep) and syncs
wirelessly with the internet to help
guide you on the path to fitness.
This device constantly records audio,
keeping up to 60 seconds before
wiping data. If you want to keep
a recording of something you just
press a button to save it for future
WHAT TO WEAR THIS SEASON?
This is a tiny wearable camera that
automatically takes 2 photos every
minute to record your daily life.
This is a multi-purpose smartwatch
with the capability to track fitness,
get notifications from your phone
and connect to social networks like
Twitter or Foursquare.
WHAT IS FON?
There are places in the world where it’s possible to hop from
public WiFi hotspot to public WiFi hotspot without ever using
your cellular data. At the moment though, those places are still
in the minority and aren’t always easily accessible to visitors
from the outside. That’s essentially the problem that Spanish
company Fon aims to solve. Founded in 2006, Fon has a
presence on four continents and has a community of around
12 million members.
That community is at the core of Fon’s business model. Each
of those 12-million members, which the network calls “Foner-
os”, share a part of their bandwidth as a separate WiFi signal.
In return, they are able to securely access any other Fon WiFi
hotspot both inside their own countries and around the world.
MAKING THE INTERNET MORE FON
In order to join the community, members do however have
to install a Fon-enabled router. That’s because Fon-enabled
routers have special software which enables the Fon Service.
Fon insists though that this doesn’t place any additional strain
on your home WiFi network. The public hotspot that is created
will only utilise the unused capacity on your connection, Fon
You also shouldn’t get people latching on to your private net-
work. The public Fon hotspot you create from your broadband
connection is operated as a completely separate WiFi channel.
This should ensure that the roaming user of your hotspot will
not have the ability to affect your residential connection. For
the same reason, your home WiFi signal shouldn’t be affected.
MWEB is the exclusive South African partner of Fon.
WHERE THE IDEA CAME FROM
Fon founder Martin Varsavsky reportedly had the idea for the
network when he was sitting in a Paris café one afternoon and
trying to get online. Irritated at the fact that all the available
WiFi networks were password protected, Varsavsky had the
idea that if he could use just a little bit of the bandwidth of the
people around them and offer them the opportunity to do the
same in a safe way, people wouldn’t ever have to stress about
finding free WiFi again.
For more information on Fon visit: http://www.fon.com/
TO WIFI CONNECTIONS.
Brought to you by
MWEB ADSL customers, with a Fon–enabled router, can use their home
connection out of home and get Uncapped WiFi in a range of MWEB WiFi
• International Fon hotspots
• AlwaysOn hotspots
or visit www.mweb.co.za/MwebWiFi/AboutMwebWiFi.aspxConnect with us
MWEB IS THE EXCLUSIVE SOUTH
AFRICAN PARTNER OF FON.
• MWEB WiFi Zones
• MWEB Fon hotspots
To see how Fon works CLICK HERE
For more information on Fon visit: http://www.fon.com