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Etisalat plans iZone charges

Hotspot hoppers in the region will no longer be able to use public wireless internet free of charge. Etisalat has decided to introduce charges for using its wireless internet points called iZones from next month.

Hotspot hoppers in the region will no longer be able to use public wireless internet free of charge. Etisalat has decided to introduce charges for using its wireless internet points called iZones from next month.

iZones are public WiFi hotspots at locations such as coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, airports and exhibitions halls, where users can access wireless broadband internet. This service is currently free, but it’s just a market trial for a short period of time, to test Etisalat’s infrastructure and to gauge the public’s response, according to the company.

“We used the trial period to demonstrate the value that the service will add to user’s existing businesses,” said Abdullah Hashim, senior manager, business development and marketing of eCompany. “The effort has paid off, since now we have more venues than we had estimated during the introductory phase, and a significant number of users have already used this service.”

The iZone service is currently available in over 90 locations. In Dubai, iZones are installed in over 30 food courts and cafés such as Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Internet access at these hotspots will now be charged by five different methods. “Users will be charged via their internet account, by credit card, by Etisalat prepaid card, by prepaid I-card and by their GSM number,” said Hashim.

While dial-up subscribers of Al Shamil can use their existing username and password, Etisalat prepaid cards available at most grocery shops can also be used. “We have also come up with special branded and co-branded iZone cards that will be available at the iZone venue itself in denominations of 1 hour, 3 hours, 12 and 24 hours,” added Hashim.

Credit cards can also be used to purchase internet access time online, while GSM customers can get the access fees charged to their mobile phone number. The tariff structure has been planned to accommodate as many types of access patterns as possible. While users may pay AED 6 per hour if they are an Al Shamil subscriber, they can also choose to buy a 24-hour iZone prepaid card for just AED 70.

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