Western Cape Premier Helen Zille delivered her State of the Province Address 2016 on 19 February, stating that broadband is a game changer in the province.
In July 2014, the Western Cape signed a R2.89-billion, 10-year contract with the State Information and Technology Agency (SITA) and Neotel to connect over 1,900 public buildings to high-speed broadband.
“We are working together very well in partnership to roll out a public-private partnership that will have a catalytic impact on the growth of our economy,” said Zille.
She said infrastructure at over 1,000 sites has been completed, consisting of either wireless or fibre optic cable. Broadband services have been activated at over 900 of these sites.
“A total of 692 schools have been connected to date, as well as 92 libraries and 169 corporate sites.”
The broadband services offered range between 10Mbps and 1Gbps, and are backed by corporate-grade service level agreements.
Further key milestones include the establishment of a separate Schools Network, as well as a Libraries Network.
“The uptake of the Internet capability within schools has been nothing short of astounding.”
She said the Schools Network has served over 377 million pages, and delivered over 17TB of information to date.
“An interesting phenomenon has been the extent to which the Internet capability at schools has been complemented by the Internet capability at libraries.”
Usage at libraries increases dramatically once learners leave the school premises and use the Internet at the local library.
To date, this network has served over 59 million pages and 2.5TB of information.
Leveraging off the broadband capability is a managed email and calendaring solution for schools, which will be fully operational within the next 3 months.
“In March, we are launching the first 50 of over 380 public Wi-fi hotspots where citizens can access limited free Wi-fi. This is also in partnership with Neotel,” said Zille.
To date, SITA has invested approximately R315 million in the broadband programme, and Neotel has invested R186 million.