London’s black cabs are to be at the centre of a new initiative in 2013 that will give passengers free internet minutes in exchange for watching adverts during their cab ride.
Similar to the system rolled out on the London Underground, with WiFi access now available at certain stations, taxi passengers will receive 15 minutes of free internet access after watching a short 15 second advert.
The CabWifi network, developed by startup company Eyetease, utilises 3G and 4G technology, turning a black cab into a WiFi hotspot, with the company also suggesting the system overcomes issues such as losing connectivity.
Richard Corbett, CEO of Eyetease said: ‘With dwell times averaging 15 minutes in the back of a taxi, what better way to pass the time than to use your laptop, tablet, book reader or phone with guilt free internet access.
‘Tourists and business travellers can now access their emails, talk on Skype or surf the web without the fear of being hit with high data roaming charges when they return home.’
It isn’t solely the passengers who benefit from the ‘ads for access’ model however.
With the introduction of taxi apps for picking up fares, drivers have claimed their phone bills have dramatically increased in recent months. But with “CabWifi” providing free internet access and their own login, cabbies will now be able to offset the high cost of roaming charges, a blessing for drivers already having to deal with high maintenance costs and taxi insurance.
With 500 cabs already signed up and negotiations with ‘major consumer brands’ over a rollout in the first quarter of 2013 now underway it appears that CabiWiFi is set to thrive, despite the current cloud hanging over the very future of the black cab and manufacturers Manganese Bronze.