JOHANNESBURG, April 2023 – Through leading vehicle tracking and telematics company Netstar, a subsidiary of Altron, in partnership with Vodacom Business and Toyota, taxi commuters across the country are empowered via the use of a free in-taxi connectivity service, WiTaxi.
Through this partnership, it allows passengers to access free Wi-Fi from their personal devices on their daily commutes, turning often long travel time into productive time when they can get some work done and even connect with family and friends.
Leveraging off connected devices installed by Toyota, Netstar is managing the project to enable free wi-fi for commuters, with Vodacom as the carrier and WiTaxi the implementing partner.
Toyota South Africa began selling all of its Toyota and Lexus vehicles with a Wi-Fi connected device since September 2019 – with the objective of providing a seamless connectivity journey for all their guests.
For Vodacom, bringing about the taxi of the future through this partnership is an extension of its goal to connect the underserved and underbanked population of South Africa, improving connectivity for all. This partnership is also a crucial step to closing the digital divide, bringing increased connectivity and the power of digital technology to a wider audience.
“South Africa’s taxi industry is responsible for more than 60% of daily commutes, making it an integral part of the country’s transport sector and a significant economic player,” says Netstar Group Managing Director, Grant Fraser. “We are truly excited about this partnership with Toyota, WiTaxi and Vodacom, and believe the connected commute is going to be a game changer for South African taxi passengers, drivers and even operators.”
“This partnership speaks to how Vodacom Business can empower through technology solutions that drive progress and inspire innovation” says William Mzimba, Chief Officer for Vodacom Business.
The in-transit connectivity also addresses safety concerns for taxi owners, drivers and commuters, as the platform can assist in mapping road hazards such as potholes, traffic, and accidents.
How it works
The approved Toyota Wi-Fi / telematics devices, supplied by Netstar installed in Toyota Ses’fikile’ taxis are used to enable the WiTaxi plaform. There have been more than 3 200 taxis across the country activated to the WiTaxi platform to date, and there is the potential to reach a further 48 000 connected taxis.
“In exchange for free high-speed Wi-Fi, commuters just need to watch short, 15-second adverts. This is an untapped and exciting opportunity for SMMEs to generate maximum impact and unlock economic activity by connecting with approximately 15-million people,” says Brian Mdluli, Managing Director for WiTaxi.
With the technology infrastructure already in place to support connectivity, commuters simply need to connect seamlessly to the free Wi-Fi through the WiTaxi app. This service is completely safe and free to users, who can access as much as 1GB of uninterrupted Wi-Fi per day.
In line with their purpose of connecting for good, Vodacom is also looking to introduce a reward system linked to this network through their super app, VodaPay. Not only will this enable commuters to access a rich network of content, but it will also help simplify their lives through cashless transactions whilst traveling – and be rewarded for it.
“Leveraging connectivity to create new revenue streams for entrepreneurs, taxi drivers and fleet owners at a time when business owners are looking to turn problems into new possibilities is how we take the industry and country further together,” adds Mzimba.
When connected, commuters can stream their favourite shows, browse through social media, and use the time to stay up to date with what’s happening at work.
“The technology allows commuters, drivers and operators access to a myriad of convenience, connectivity, and safety benefits. Internet connectivity has become an essential need for economic, social, cultural, political, and civic participation in the digital age,” concludes Fraser. “South Africans are increasingly aware of how connected technologies can improve their lives, and we must ensure that we evolve in tandem with market expectations.”