Google pulling out of free Wi-Fi project in South Africa

Google Station, which is Google’s global free Wi-Fi programme, is shutting down across the world. This includes its partnership with Think Wi-Fi in South Africa.

“Since we first started, the ecosystem has evolved and combined with complex and varying technical requirements across countries and partners, we have been re-evaluating our plans and have decided to wind down Station through 2020,” said Google South Africa.

“We are transferring our Station operations in South Africa to Think WiFi, who will now carry out the project independently.”

Google South Africa added that it will work with Think WiFi in a transition process that will span the rest of 2020.

Think WiFi said the service will continue to operate as users have become accustomed to, while plans are in the pipeline to roll the service out to more areas in the coming months.

“The launch of the free Wi-Fi initiative in the Western Cape has been more successful than anticipated and plans are already underway to roll free Wi-Fi out to the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, and some areas in Mpumalanga,” said Think WiFi CEO Janine Rebelo.

“We endeavour to work with the private and public sector to bring connectivity to the unconnected.”

Think WiFi said Google Station has already reached over a million people in South Africa, and the ISP sees a gap in the market to become the new preferred service provider for free Wi-Fi.

Testing the service

MyBroadband initially tested the quality of the service using our Speed Test server at NAPAfrica in Cape Town.

Internet sessions are 30 minutes in length, and to initiate or extend a session users must watch a video advert.

When using the MyBroadband Speed Test app, we achieved speeds of 1Mbps down, and 0.7Mbps up.

However, larger downloads peaked at a speed of 200kbps.

YouTube videos were watchable, but other pages – such as Khan Academy and Coursera – were unusable.

Now read: Google’s free Wi-Fi tested – Here are the real speeds

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Google pulling out of free Wi-Fi project in South Africa