Three community networks, the Johannesburg Wireless User Group (Jawug), Pretoria Wireless Project (PWP) and the Pretoria Wireless User Group (PTAWUG), have successfully linked up their networks to form one of the largest community-run telecoms networks in the southern hemisphere.
The full network consists of more than 200 nodes, covering a large part of the Gauteng province and stretching across 136km. The network is built using standard 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz Wi-Fi equipment.
These communities have grown from their early beginnings to become a valuable source of connectivity to members. PTAWUG has members ranging between 17 and 72 years in age, giving an indication of the widespread appeal of community networks.
These networks are open to anyone to join and apart from the initial equipment cost is entirely free.
While there is a public perception that only technically knowledgeable individuals can join these networks, the various operators point out that this is certainly not the case. Free support is given by community members to assist new members – independent of their level of expertise – to connect to the network.
Users interested in joining one of the wireless networks are encouraged to visit http://www.wug.za.net/currentwugs.php and contact their local group.