In association with distributor Drive Control Corporation (DCC), HipZone, a national provider of Wi-Fi hotspot solutions to more than 300 outlets across South Africa – including popular venues such the Vida e Café coffee shops and the Kauai health food outlets, and hospitality players like Protea Hotels and the Leisure Hotel Group – can now give users of these hotspots a safer Web experience with the help of Symantec’s Norton Connect Safe … along with some neat discounts on Symantec products.
Notes Roy Ingle, MD of HipZone: “Norton Connect Safe is a free service to all users of these hotspots. Essentially, every time they connect via a HipZone-enabled hotspot, they will do so via Symantec’s DNS server and Norton Connect Safe. The server screens the websites that users want to connect to and notifies the user if the site is rated unsafe. It’s a big plus for users considering the growth in use of Wi-Fi hotspots by especially Smartphone and tablet users, and the increasing threats they face when connecting to websites.”
Says Fred Mitchell, Symantec Business Unit Manager at DCC: “DCC has long represented Symantec’s solutions in South Africa and has a large focused Symantec team, able to assist resellers and service providers from retail and online to large enterprise providers. Symantec is a global leader in the field of security and its products are a smart fit with users of Wi-Fi connectivity who want a fast, efficient and safe experience. When we identified the opportunity for HipZone to incorporate the Norton Connect Safe product, we actively pursued it. It’s a win-win opportunity – users get the benefit of the Symantec product for free and can access discounts on these products; DCC is able to grow awareness of the Symantec brand; and by incorporating Norton Connect Safe into the Wi-Fi hotspot user’s experience, HipZone is able to enhance its offering while also adding significant value to its clients and their guests.”
Ingle believes that the increasing ubiquity of mobile devices is driving the growth of Wi-Fi. “Globally the growth of Wi-Fi parallels that of mobile device ownership. These applications on these devices are continually updating, huge stores of content designed for use on mobile devices encourage users to connect, and as personal productivity tools, smartphones, tablets and laptops are hard to beat. However, voice networks are already crowded and 3G is expensive – Wi-Fi is thus the connectivity medium of choice for users. And the stats back this up: in the past two years we have seen Smartphone and tablet traffic on our Wi-Fi hotspots grow from 20% to 60% of all traffic, with laptop users shrinking to 40%.”
In real terms, using Norton Connect Safe means that if you are sitting at a coffee shop and browsing, the DNS server will warn you if the security certificates of the website you want to view are not in place, or the site is suspected of harbouring viruses, malware or other nasty surprises. Notes Ingle: “Symantec’s servers apply a number of parameters in rating a website. Phishing, for example, has become big business in South Africa. So, if you are doing online banking, the DNS server will warn you if the site you are trying to connect to is not, in fact, an established banking site but a two-month old counterfeit site set up to harvest information.”
HipZone is on the leading edge of Wi-Fi enablement and marketing for well known brands and more than a few mom-and-pop shops and boutique hotels in the hospitality and restaurant sectors that understand the value and benefits of offering their clients digital connectivity.
Says Ingle: “Wi-Fi has grown significantly over the last five years – it’s a real draw-card for restaurants and hotels, driving loyalty, sales and brand awareness, and allowing the brand to interact directly with its customers. For guests, it’s just plain convenient. Digital access to information or entertainment, to download email, or complete business related activities while on the go has become an integral part of our personal and business lives. But the process of setting up a Wi-Fi hotspot can be messy, especially if you have multiple outlets using different Wi-Fi and/or Internet Service Providers.”
HipZone makes it as easy as possible for users at these sites to access the information or functionality they want by providing a branded media gateway for the outlet with a standardized look and feel and key functionality useful to the venue’s target market and location. “These media gateways are customised to our client’s needs, with perhaps news, tide and weather reports, or a concierge service for hotels that may include an area or restaurant guide or a facility to book flights or movies. Now, with the affiliation with Symantec and Symantec product distributor DCC, users of these hotspots will not only have the security assurance Norton Connect Safe offers, but be able to access select Symantec products at a reduced rate. We certainly envisage Symantec becoming a core component of the HipZone offering.”
Concludes Mitchell: “The time we spend online – for pleasure and for business – continues to grow. Given the impact that a virus, malware, or other threat can have on our ability to function efficiently, and in terms of damaging our precious data, being ‘safe’ online is becoming a critical part of smart digital lifestyles. We hope to continue growing our chief affiliate status with Symantec, and with other organisations, like HipZone, whose clients can potentially benefit from Symantec security solutions.”