The Western Cape broadband project is not just about connecting government buildings and offering free Wi-Fi, but about rolling out fibre services along the way.
That’s the word from Neotel boss Sunil Joshi, who was answering questions about Helen Zille’s recent announcement that the Western Cape has embarked on a project to offer free broadband services throughout the province.
Neotel, the State Information Technology Agency (Sita), and the Western Cape government have signed an agreement to provide broadband services to around 2,000 government sites.
“By May 2016, all sites will be connected with minimum speeds of 10Mbps under this agreement,” Zille said. “By August 2018, most sites will be connected by fibre optic cables with 90% of sites enjoying 100Mbps speeds and 10% enjoying 1Gbps speeds.”
Zille said their government is also committed to ensuring their communities can tangibly benefit from this agreement.
“Neotel has therefore generously committed to funding the infrastructure rollout of 384 Wi-Fi hotspots, using Western Cape Government buildings, which will cover almost every ward in the province.”
More than free Wi-Fi
While there was a lot of attention on the free broadband access that will result from the project, Joshi said there was more to it than that.
Neotel would connect buildings such as libraries, community centres, and health clinics as part of the 2,000 sites included in the project,
However, as Neotel deploys the infrastructure it will also connect other institutions, and even households, Joshi said.
Part of the project will be looking at how they can use a combination of fibre and wireless to “broadband-enable” residential areas.
Joshi said the Western Cape broadband project is the first such initiative to use a public-private partnership model “to really address the broadband challenge in South Africa”.