3 March 2011
As part of its push to bridge the digital divide in South Africa, mobile operator Vodacom has launched the WebBox, a device that provides internet access using a customer’s television set.
The WebBox is a Vodafone innovation developed specifically for customers in emerging markets, where technology and cost barriers exclude many from enjoying affordable and easy internet access.
It consists of a sleek 14x25cm QWERTY keyboard that comes with a SIM card and an inbuilt modem, and uses standard RCA connectors to plug into a television set. With no set-up required, the plug and play keyboard converts any standard television into an internet portal.
“I’m thrilled about our latest innovation because it’s going to change the face of internet connectivity in South Africa,” Vodacom South Africa commercial director Romeo Kumalo said in a statement last month.
“It is estimated that just over 10% of the South African population has access to the internet; this device will ensure that Internet access is available to many more South Africans who previously had limited or no access.”
Internet access, email
The Webbox home screen allows the customer to navigate easily between the core services: internet access, SMS and e-mail messaging, internet search, and media services including FM radio and a photo gallery tool, as well as a music player.
The browser homepage comes with bookmarks such as news, sport and social networking sites as well as locally relevant apps such as a job search and application service.
In addition, the portal comes with some games, a dictionary and a basic text editor.
“The value that this product will add to schools, homes and small businesses is potentially dramatic,” said Kumalo. “The wealth of knowledge that is available on the internet can now be accessed by millions of South Africans which will add greater value to the South African economy.”
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