What do you need to know before launching a hotspot service?

In this article, we’ll share practical advice on how to start delivering reliable and affordable pay-as-you-go internet services in your communities. The key insights are supported by Project Isizwe, a non-profit organization that provides equitable internet access for under-served African communities. With almost 10 years working in this sector, Project Isizwe shared their experience and best practices that should be considered before launching a hotspot internet service.

How can you benefit from Wi-Fi hotspots?

Hotspot technology makes it possible to increase internet access and help people from rural areas and low-income communities participate in the digital economy. Thus, allowing you to:

  • Reach remote locations with easy-to-access Wi-Fi
  • Increase ARPU by expanding your product offerings
  • Develop your brand and community goodwill with public Wi-Fi hotspots
  • Engage new markets and get more recognition in existing ones
  • Expand reseller channels

Ready to boost your ISP growth? Let’s do it!

What should you consider before launching internet hotspot services?

To launch the best hotspot internet service you must gain a deep understanding of your target customers and how they fit into the overall business model. This requires thorough market research to identify who the target audience is, what specific regions or areas you plan to focus on, and what the customers are willing to pay for the mobile hotspot service offered.

Having a clear understanding of the target market will also help you to establish realistic revenue targets (within your business model) for each Wi-Fi endpoint. It is important to carefully consider all of the factors involved in reaching these targets, including the level of competition in the market, the quality and reliability of the services being offered, and any additional features or benefits that set you apart from your competitors.

Because public Wi-Fi hotspots are used by everybody and anybody there is a potential mix of customers. On one hand, there are loyal, regular users who make use of the public Wi-Fi service frequently, and on the other hand, there are occasional users who may use the service only once. Knowing the difference between these two customer groups can help you tailor marketing strategies, retain customers, offer various bundled options, and set appropriate price points. It also impacts the level of support provided to each customer group.

It is equally important to have a deep understanding of the technology solutions being used, including hardware and software. This requires being knowledgeable about the system’s capabilities, limitations, and how they can impact the overall service. This information is critical in making informed decisions and planning around any limitations to ensure a smooth operation.

Early planning and budgeting for marketing and awareness are also crucial. This must be a key part of your plan to provide Wi-Fi hotspot services, as it helps to reach the target customers, increase brand recognition, and attract new users.

It is also important to know ahead of time how you will support your users. Unlike home and business Wi-Fi, customers who use public Wi-Fi hotspots have different expectations and needs from hotspot coverage. They often move around, and the frequency, duration, and regularity of use can be very varied (depending on where the hotspots are positioned). To meet these needs, it is important to plan for real-time, on-demand support. Anticipating the support requirements and planning accordingly can greatly impact the success of your services and customer satisfaction.

Who should consider launching hotspot services?

Any ISP that is looking to extend their offering to a wider customer base that uses publicly accessible hotspot internet services should definitely consider launching this service. Public Wi-Fi is available to anyone and can be used for a variety of purposes, depending on the location and accessibility of the hotspot.

For instance, if the hotspot covers places of work during business hours, customers may have higher bandwidth requirements for work-related activities such as video conferencing, emailing, and online meetings. These customers may also have higher expectations for reliability and security as they need a stable connection to conduct their daily work. As a result, ISPs entering this market must be prepared to offer high-quality services that meet the needs of these customers.

If, however, the hotspot covers residential areas, it may attract customers who want to use the WiFi for recreational activities as well as customers aiming to stream various content. These customers may have different requirements, such as high-speed connectivity, but may not be as concerned about reliability and security. ISPs moving into these environments must be cognisant of both the service and support requirements of each group of customers and adjust their offerings accordingly.

Once again, Internet service providers looking to launch the best WiFi hotspot services must carefully consider the potential customer base and their needs to ensure customer satisfaction and long-term success.

What are the expenses for starting hotspot services?

For starting a hotspot service, some of the expenses one needs to keep in mind are:

  1. Equipment and hardware – The cost of buying or leasing the necessary equipment to run a network like routers, switches, access points, and other hardware components.
  2. Bandwidth – The cost of internet connectivity which is an essential component of a hotspot business.
  3. Software and systems – The cost of acquiring the necessary billing and network management software systems like Splynx.
  4. Marketing – The costs associated with promoting and advertising the hotspot service to attract customers.
  5. Human resources – The cost of hiring people to take care of marketing, customer services, and support.

What about the equipment set?

When choosing proper equipment like routers and access points for your hotspot service, Splynx’s approach is to suggest you consider factors such as the expected size of your network, the number of users, the level of security you require, and the budget you have available. You should look for routers that are easy to set up and manage.

What are the best practices for providing Wi-Fi hotspots for people in markets underserved by the internet?

Service providers need to understand the opportunities in these areas and balance this with the need to supply reliable internet to customers who don’t often have access to large amounts of cash. Even the price point of R5 (0.3 USD) a day is still unaffordable for many, especially children still in school and the unemployed, people who most need uncapped online access to enable change in their lives. It is good to consider time-based bundles (hourly packages) instead of MBs. Customers prefer the R5 for 24 hours option. Acknowledge that people living in underserved communities have the same right to quality internet as those in the high-end market and adapt your hotspot service plans to them.

Which business model is the most efficient in terms of monetization?

Project Isizwe’s business model is a mix of B2C services at R5 per device per day (this also includes R25 (~1.4 USD)/7 day and R100(~5.7 USD)/30 day products) as well as corporate-funded/sponsored projects. As a non-profit company, their sustainability lies in these diversified income streams. Their experience has taught them that selling R5 Wi-Fi and collaborating with partners that want to impact underserved communities by providing free or affordable WiFi, are better monetization routes than advertising and subscription-based models.

To find out more about the Project Isizwe workflow and the outcome of integrating Splynx solution for their hotspot and network management, please check out our case study.


It is a promising opportunity for WISPs to consider offering mobile hotspot services as a way to expand their business and attract new customers. With the increasing demand for internet access, especially in public or densely populated areas, hotspots provide a convenient and accessible solution. The use of an innovative hotspot tool delivered by Splynx can streamline the management and operation of these hotspots, enabling ISPs to efficiently and effectively serve their communities.

The best part is that Splynx is an all-in-one solution and hotspot add-on is available for all our customers. Follow the link to learn more and apply for a free demo.

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