14 June 2013

Kenya: Safaricom Launches "Vumaonline" to Offer Free Wifi in Matatus

Photo: Lauren Everitt/AllAfrica
A matatu, a mode of public transport, along Waiyaki Way in Nairobi.

As we had exclusively revealed earlier, Safaricom today announced the launch of Vuma Online, which will see commuters access WiFi in public transport vehicles. The service was launched by Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, in Buruburu shopping centre at an event attended by a number of matatu operators. Matatus will pay KSh. 2,000 per month and have the service accessible to users for free.

The service is accessible through a WiFi router, which matatu owners can choose to pay for or have at no cost after subscribing to the service for two months.

A pilot will see 200 Nairobi matatus and buses plying the Nairobi- Mombasa route have WiFi installed in them at a cost of KSh. 7 million. So far, 46 matatus plying Buruburu, Langata, Rongai, Umoja, Githurai, Dandora, Kiambu and Kenyatta University have had the service installed. Matatus taking part in the pilot will also be branded to indicate they are offering the service.

On the Nairobi-Mombasa route, Horizon Coach and Guardian buses have the service installed, with Easy Coach currently in the process. Horizon coaches have also installed CCTV cameras in the buses and can monitor what is going on in the bus.

The initiative allows Safaricom to provide other services such as traffic information and public service vehicle information, that is, how traffic is moving and a schedule of public vehicles. To mark the launch, commuters in Buruburu were offered free matatu rides the whole day on "VumaOnline" branded matatus.

As we had also reported, the service will help Safaricom increase brand visibility and also potentially lead to an increase in uptake of smartphones in the country. Consumers are also expected to purchase more bundles to continue with Internet usage when not commuting.

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