New device to access internet and email on a TV

A unique new device from Vodafone named the Webbox has the potential to revolutionise internet access in emerging markets. The first device of its kind, the Webbox is a keyboard which, once plugged into any television set, provides affordable internet access.

The innovative new product is developed specifically for customers in emerging markets, where technology and cost barriers often exclude many from enjoying affordable, ready internet access at home or in the workplace. A sleek, black, 14 x 25cm QWERTY keyboard, the Webbox uses standard RCA connectors to plug into the television. With no set-up required, the plug and play keyboard converts any standard domestic television into an internet portal.

In a demonstration given to journalists at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Webbox was shown powering internet access on a 10 year old CRT (cathode ray tube) television, making the point that Webbox really has been designed with emerging markets in mind.

Patrick Chomet, Vodafone’s Group Director of Terminals said: “The Webbox is a simple yet very innovative product. It has the potential to make a powerful difference in the lives of people in emerging markets who have limited access to the internet, but where TV penetration is typically very high. The simplicity of the product is striking – it brings the internet to the TV, be that at home for the family, in schools for education or in small businesses to assist local economic growth.”

The Webbox home screen allows the customer to navigate easily between the core services using a track pad similar to that found on many laptop computers. Internet access is provided courtesy of Opera Mini 5.1 browser. Other on-line services which come as standard on the webbox include:

  • SMS and email messaging
  • Internet search
  • FM radio
  • Photo gallery
  • Music player

Patrick ChometThe Webbox Opera Mini browser runs over the 2.5G and EDGE mobile networks, compressing data by around 90% and so serving fast-loading internet pages. The browser homepage comes with bookmarks such as news, sport and social networking sites as well as locally relevant apps such as a job search and application service. In addition, the portal comes with some games, a dictionary and a text editor. Users will be able to download additional apps for other services as these become available and a removable SD card provides storage.

In South Africa, Vodacom has today announced that they will start selling the Webbox from next week. According to Chomet the device will initially be priced at the equivalent of around US$100 in local currency. This includes a PAYG SIM card with an initial 100MB data download allowance. Other markets across Vodafone’s emerging market footprint will launch in 2011.

More info:

Sign-up to our weekly newsletter

Keep up-to-date with all the latest news, articles, event and product updates posted on Developing Telecoms.
Subscribe to our FREE weekly email newsletters for the latest telecom info in developing and emerging markets globally.
Sending occasional e-mail from 3rd parties about industry white papers, online and live events relevant to subscribers helps us fund this website and free weekly newsletter. We never sell your personal data. Click here to view our privacy policy.