Vodacom today launched its Mobile Internet service, which will allow users to view all Internet sites from their WAP-enabled cellphones.
In what it is calling a first for South Africa, Vodacom’s Mobile Internet service will ensure an accurate representation of the Internet on a cellphone, through technology that adapts the computer-screen format of any website into a smaller, cellphone-friendly format.
The content and design is not changed; only the format is adjusted to suit the screen size and processing power of the host cellphone. Customers now effectively have the same experience of the Internet on their cellphones as they do on a PC.
"Vodacom’s Mobile Internet will revolutionise the way South Africans use the Internet," says MD Shameel Joosub. "Vodacom customers now have the freedom to explore a much wider world on an extensive range of cellphones, experiencing the familiarity of the Internet they previously enjoyed via a computer."
Most websites are not meant for display on cellphones; they may contain too much information for the cellphone to handle, require code that the cellphone does not understand, or offer services that the cellphone cannot access.
“It’s important for customers to understand that technologically, this is a whole new ball game compared to the limited mobile Internet access that has been available in South Africa up to now,” says Joosub.
“It is not the same as ‘made-for-mobile’ pages, which have been specifically designed to work on a cellphone and which are much smaller than standard web pages. A made-for-mobile site offers and will be limited to only services suitable for use on a cellphone, while Vodacom’s new Mobile Internet service automatically reformats any web page so it fits the cellphone screen."
Vodacom’s Mobile Internet service offers quick download times, access to all the world’s websites, and simple billing based on existing data tariffs. Vodacom estimates that, depending on the size of the website being accessed, it will cost a customer between 19c and R2.00 to view 10-20 web pages.