A WiFi mesh network, similar to the one Google recently launched in Mountain View, is being developed in Tshwane with the potential to drastically reduce the cost of Internet access. And the best of all, it is already live!
Neology, in a proof-of-concept project with the City of Tshwane, has established an open access WiFi network in various Tshwane suburbs. A MetroMesh Zone was created in Hatfield, with coverage in South Street, Prospect Street, Hilda Street, Roper Street, Burnett Street, Festival Street.
High Site Distribution Nodes are up on the Centurion Water Tower, Cable Hill South, Cable Hill North and Soshanguve, giving coverage to numerous Tshwane suburbs.
These suburbs include Zwartkop, Highveld, Irene, Centurion Lake, Rooihuiskraal, Rooihuiskraal North, Wierda Park, Simarlo, Bronberrick, Eldoraigne, Hennopspark, Clubview, Lyttelton, Lyttelton Manor, Die Hoewes in the Centurion region.
In the Cable Hill area Mountainview, Daspoort, Daspoort Estate, Hermanstad, Pretoria Gardens, Claremont, Parktown Estate, Mayville, Les Marais, Roseville, Eloffsdal, Capital Park, Wonderboom South, Gezina, Pretoria North, Wolmer, Dorandia, Tileba, Florauna, Theresapark, Annlin, and Wonderboom residents should be able to access the network.
The network is a full open access network which promises to provide basic access to municipal, e-government and related services free of charge.
The last mile access is provided by standard 2.4 GHz WiFi technologies making it accessible from any laptop or computing device with WiFi connectivity. The backhaul bandwidth is obtained using Tshwane’s well established fiber network and appropriate wireless technologies.
Network security has also been considered, and a VPN client, similar to Google Secure Access is available to ensure end-user data integrity.
While users will have to sign up with an ISP operating on the Tshwane Metropolitan WiFi network to gain access to the Internet, many services running only on the Tshwane IP network will be effectively free of charge. These services can include VoIP, P2P or gaming.
Making the most of the network
Neology pointed out that this network can be utilized by any company wanting to deliver services to end users. They are encouraging ISPs and end users to make use of this great opportunity.
ISPs, for example, can utilize the wireless last mile access provided to them by Neology to supply broadband services to end users.
This open access network is particularly suitable for smaller or start-up ISPs who will now be able to provide internet access to end users without the need to invest in a billing system or Internet bandwidth. All the ISP related services can be provided to would-be ISPs by Neology which will dramatically reduce start-up costs.
Neology co-founder Roelf Diedericks, well known and respected in Internet circles, says that they envisage a dramatic decrease in the cost of broadband access as the ‘access’ portion is now freely available to all players, thus stimulating competition.
So how much will Internet access cost in currently covered areas?
Basic ‘hotspot’ Internet access from Neology will cost users R 50-00 for three days with a usage limit of 150 MB. Weekly access, which will supply users with 500 MB of usage, is priced at R 150-00 and monthly access with a 3 GB usage limit is priced at R 350-00.
These prices compete very favorable with all commercial offerings currently available in the market, and Neology expects a good take-up of this service.
This pricing is valid only for the period of the Proof-Of-Concept and will be updated shortly.
More information about this project is available from the Tshwane MetroFi website, available here: http://tshwane.metrofi.co.za/
More information about access to the network or services delivered on it can be obtained from Neology: http://www.neology.co.za/