EIM rolls out public hotspots

Emirates Internet & Multimedia (EIM), the ISP arm of UAE telecommunications provider Etisalat, has announced a new public wireless hotspot service, which it hopes will lead to 100 public hotspots being launched in the country this year.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  June 9, 2004

Emirates Internet & Multimedia (EIM), the ISP arm of UAE telecommunications provider Etisalat, has announced a new public wireless hotspot service, which it hopes will lead to 100 public hotspots being launched in the country this year. EIM's new iZone-branded service is aimed at improving the availability and convenience of fast wireless internet access in the UAE by allowing users to connect at broadband speeds from public locations. The iZone service will be available to all existing EIM subscribers, DialUp accounts and accounts associated with Al Shamil and BusinessOne. "We are committed to providing high speed Internet coverage in public venues to Internet mobile users," commented Abdulla Hashim, senior manager, business development and marketing, EIM. "Although this is the first significant step to offer mobility through a highly reliable, high-speed network, it is certainly not the last. This is just one wireless solution that will complement our fixed networks of broadband Internet technologies.“ UAE users of wireless enabled notebooks and PDAs will be able to gain access in designated public venues by simply entering the DialUp user-name and password into the browser of the wireless enabled device. An initial login charge of Dhs10 will apply the first time a user logs on in any specific monthly billing cycle, with Dhs5 then being charged for each megabyte of data a user downloads or uploads. Now that the billing arrangements for such hotspots have been finalised, EIM has already begun approaching owners and managers of public locations to deploy wireless hotspot technology, with the aim of rolling out 100 hotspots by the end of 2004. "We acted proactively to negotiate with them and highlight the business benefits of deploying iZones in their respective premises," Hashim explained. "Such a service will definitely attract more traffic and customers to these locations and lead to more prosperity to the business sector. We aim that it will become soon a real public service similar to public payphones and GSM network spread throughout the UAE." Dubai Convention Centre for instance recently set-up a wireless hotspot and it looks likely that future public hotspots will appear in public areas with high volumes of traffic such as shopping malls. EIM is not the only Middle East organisation to have recently announced plans to improve wireless internet access. Hotspot usage in Kuwait for instance received a boost with the launch of a roaming service from SmartLink Telecom, which differs from EIM's service in that users log on using pre-paid access cards rather than being charged on the amount of data they use. In the private sector, Alshaya Retail, the franchise operator of Starbucks Coffee outlets across the Middle East, has announced plans to set-up between 75 and 100 hot spots in stores across the region, while Saudi Arabian ISP Awalnet is developing over 100 alone in the Kingdom. According to research group Gartner, the number of worldwide wireless hot spot users will triple this year, from 2003’s figure of 9.3 million up to 30 million predicted consumers.

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