Vending machines are great for selling your product in places where one can’t really set up a store. They’re easy to use and not too expensive to maintain. Internet access is increasingly being seen as a need for a community that wishes to prosper, and Coca-Cola is doing something about that in South Africa. It is going to set up Wi-Fi enabled Coke vending machines that will not only allow people to get their fizzy drink fix, but also get connected to the internet as well.

Obviously its part of a PR campaign, Coca-Cola certainly won’t mind if sales from vending machines increase when people are milling about and enjoying free internet access, but the idea itself is good as it brings internet to rural communities. Initially the machines will be set up in rural Eastern Cape and rural Mpumalanga.

Connectivity and support will be provided by BT, the vending machines and soft drinks by Coca-Cola. Since both sites for these machines are close to shopping centres and schools large numbers of people will be able to access the internet. There’s no purchase restriction so its not like they have to buy a can in order to connect to the free Wi-Fi.

Both companies have plans to expand these Wi-Fi enabled Coke vending machines across South Africa. It merits mentioning here that this concept is nothing new. Back in 2011 Japanese Asahi Soft Drinks company rolled out a vending machine that also allowed people to use free Wi-Fi without any purchase restrictions.

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