The limitations associated with local Internet and broadband services – both in terms of price and speed – have spurred wireless community network initiatives around the country. Wireless User Groups, also known as WUGs, are available in all major cities and many larger towns in South Africa.
The biggest community wireless network is currently the Pretoria Wireless User Group (PTAWUG). From its humble beginnings of two Linksys wireless routers and two panels on a Lynwood roof in mid-2007, PTAWUG has grown to become the largest free community wireless network in the country, covering a large portion of the greater Pretoria municipality.
According to Dawie Joubert, one of the drivers of the PTAWUG initiative, there are currently well over 1,000 connected users to the wireless network which stretches from Hammanskraal to Midrand. The network currently sports 73 high sites with numerous high-site upgrades and additional high-sites in the pipeline.
The network is currently used for various services including online gaming, file sharing, VoIP services, IRC and Internet Messaging, live video streaming, live radio streaming, a YouTuibe clone called WugTube, Weather updates, speedtest services and even a yellow pages directory.
The PTAWUG has also sparked a new podcast called Let’s Talk Geek – http://www.letstalkgeek.net/ – hosted by well known Wuggers Stewart Allen, Tim Haak, Barry Reid and Jeff Hinds
The best part of the PTAWUG network is that it is free and unlimited where the only restriction on speed or usage is that of the technology used. The strong growth in user numbers and high sites further strengthens the network and the strength of the community.
An additional advantage of the PTAWUG is that it is connected to JAWUG (Johannesburg wireless network), which in turn is connected to the Potchefstroom Wireless Network (PCN), bringing together wireless community network users across most of Gauteng and even the North West Province.
More details about the PTAWUG and how to get connected is available on the PTAWUG website Users in the Johannesburg area can visit the JAWUG website for the same information.
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