By the end of the year, Emirates’ residents will be able get online in over 300 public places thanks to the Wifi UAE initiative announced last fall.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
It’s the same idea as the U.S.’s Boingo Hotspot, which offers internet access in over one million venues around the world in airports, hotels and restaurants.
The two services are similar in that one, they’re not free; and two, you have to sell your soul [or information] to some advertising campaigns for “complimentary”, downgraded access.
Wifi UAE works like this:
- Acquire a registered phone number – Du or Etisalat, it doesn’t matter.
- Hook up to a @Wifi UAE network.
- Decide whether you want Premium or Complimentary Access.
- Register and receive your pin.
- Ignore everybody around you.
Whether you choose the premium or complimentary package is entirely dependent on whether it’s worth it to you to have
6 or 20 hours for 20 or 50 AED, respectively, of “high download and upload speeds”
60 minutes of “limited download and upload speeds” in exchange for commercial intervals.
Wifi UAE differs from data plans in that, well, it’s not data. You’re not limited to a plan, and so have unlimited bytes to eat, but are restricted to designated locations.
You can’t Whatsapp and drive with Wifi UAE like you can 4G, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
What’s cool is that it’s device-encompassing, and residents will be able to connect not only through their phones but also tablets and laptops.
What’s even cooler is that of the places Wifi UAE has already been introduced, the Dubai Metro Stations and Tram have been some of the first. No more staring silently over peoples’ heads en route to Rashidiya on a crowded Sunday afternoon.
With Wifi UAE, avoiding looking at people has never been easier thanks to its internet-surfing and Facebook refreshing capabilities.
What this means for pre-existing wifi hotspots isn’t entirely clear yet. The Wifi UAE website briefly mentions that
We’re merging our existing free WiFi hotspots with WiFi UAE, therefore our WiFi services will finish once WiFi UAE is launched.
So it might be prudent to say your goodbyes to our dear, erratic friend, Mall Connect.
It’s an ambitious project, but not the first of its kind.
Ideally, Wifi UAE will soon expand beyond the malls and Du retail stores its currently monopolized by, and will be available on paths less frequented, maybe even to our homely neighbors up North.