The City of Tshwane is racing ahead with its free Wi-Fi programme for residents by upgrading the speed of its network as well the number of sites.
Tshwane on Wednesday announced that it has increased the speed from an average 7mbps (megabits per second) to 15mbps without incurring any additional cost to the city.
That compares well to overall 3G speeds of 9.65mbps in SA, according to Speedtest.net.
The service is critical to the digital inclusion programme that seeks to expand internet access in South Africa’s capital city.
“The provision of free Wi-Fi illustrates our desire to build a resilient, inclusive and liveable city. We call on community members, parents and learners to take ownership of the assets that government is bringing to their lives and ensure their longevity, and to keep Tshwane connected, moving us to be being the e-Capital of Africa as well,” said Executive Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa.
As national policy implementation on 4G spectrum continues to delay the roll-out of high speed mobile broadband services, Wi-Fi has emerged as a key technology.
Expanding internet access
Data from Tshwane shows that 720 000 unique users have used the service since launch in 2013. That translates to 22 million sessions and in 2015, the service has seen 165 000 users per month.
“The Tshwane Free Wi-Fi service not only aligns to the SA Connect objective for 2016 of ‘connecting 50% of broadband users at speeds of 10mbps’. It goes further to connect various schools and health facilities through the service, bringing broadband closer to a digitally included citizenry in the City for improved education, economic development and social cohesion,” said Zahir Khan, chief operating officer of Project Isizwe, which has been tasked with delivering the connectivity.
Wi-Fi is expanding internet access in SA, but projects are patchy and data caps limit true universal access.
The City of Cape Town is among several local governments implementing Wi-Fi programmes to deliver internet access and offers residents of Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain a daily cap of 3GB.
Tshwane offers 250MB though only 7% of users are reported to reach that daily cap.
The City of Tshwane has 633 Wi-Fi sites heavily invested in education with 514 at educational institutions.
Wi-Fi in poor communities provide a sustainable way to access internet services, said a key manufacturer.
“Wi-Fi installations could mean the difference between no ICT access of any kind and an affordable service as it can be used as a complementary medium to enhance the operators’ offering – allowing them to get cost effective access to consumers in these areas,” Michael Fletcher, sales director sub-Saharan Africa at Ruckus Wireless told Fin24 recently.