Huge mesh network and broadband council for Western Cape

Within the next two years, as part of a pilot project, the Western Cape government aims to create the largest mesh network in the world that will connect all households in Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain and Saldanha Bay, including the industrial development zone located there, says Western Cape MEC for economic development and tourism Alan Winde.

Delivering his 2012 budget vote speech in the Provincial Legislature on Wednesday, Winde said his department would allocate R12 million in the new financial year to create a broadband leadership council consisting of key stakeholders to drive the strategic direction and on-going investment in the broadband environment in the Western Cape.

This money would also be used to drive the development of a provincial fibre optic backbone network that connects to every municipality in the Western Cape by 2016, and connect all schools in the Western Cape by 2014.

This broadband council will also be responsible for steering the project that aims to extend free public internet access to all communities by ensuring that every ward in the Western Cape has a facility by 2014, and to build an alternate last mile access for the Western Cape, by installing an open access wireless mesh network in a suitable area.

“We have chosen Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain in the Metro to roll-out the pilot project, and the Greater Saldanha area outside the Metro,” Winde said.

A wireless mesh network uses a series of routers, or radio wave connected switches to link computers and phones to a common network in order to send and receive telephone calls and data.

The last mile connection, which Winde was referring to, was the link between a consumers’ phone or computer to the telecommunications network and was currently monopolised by Telkom.

Winde said research had shown its potential to drive economic growth and jobs in the Western Cape.

“It will also increase the competitiveness of the Western Cape by bringing us on par with our competitors in the developed world, the developing world and the rest of Africa, securing our relevance in a world economy that is being increasingly driven by global networks and broadband connections,” Winde said.

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Huge mesh network and broadband council for Western Cape