MWEB has announced a new product that will effectively give its users access to over 12 million free WiFi hotspots around the world as well as uncapped WiFi at home all for only R199 a month. However, as with everything in life, if it looks too good to be true, then it most probably is.
The new product is based on technology used by a Spanish company called Fon which essentially creates a network of crowd sourced hotspots for other Fon users to use. To put things into plain English, the R199 a month will net you a new Fon WiFi router and a WiFi range extender as well as a 2Mbps uncapped ADSL account with MWEB. The router will create two WiFi networks using your internet connection, one for your house to connect to and another public one that is available to any other Fon user to access. You will then be able to use the WiFi at home, the network of Always On hotspots as well as Fon’s hotspots around the world to connect to the internet.
If you are already an existing MWEB customer or want a line speed that is faster than the 2Mbps fear not. MWEB is also offering the free routers to both existing clients and on faster ADSL packages to cater for you. As with all of MWEB’s uncapped products the bandwidth is subject to MWEB’s fair usage policy as well as its shaping policy.
While access to Fon’s growing number of international hotspots certainly is an option that will tempt some to MWEB’s new offer we have some reservations about its operation in South Africa. Firstly, there needs to be a significant uptake in users to create enough hotspots to make them a viable means of connecting to the internet on the go. This could very well happen over time as MWEB agressively apporches the market with offers of free routers to tempt new sign ups.
Secondly, a city like Johannesburg has a large number of houses, townhouses and apartments that are predominantly made from bricks and cement. It creates less than ideal conditions for maintaining a strong WiFi signal even within the house itself. Add to that the distance from the house to the retaining wall in some suburbs and the chance of anyone actually finding your hotspot to connect to are slim to none. Which if you’re a fan of getting things without needing to share could be a bonus for you.