Western Cape free Wi-Fi and 1Gbps fibre project update

Liquid Telecom and the Western Cape government have connected 1,875 government sites to a fibre network and deployed 178 free Wi-Fi hotspots, the organisation told MyBroadband.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille announced the fibre project in 2014, which was set to be handled by Neotel and SITA.

Neotel was then acquired by Liquid Telecom in 2016.

The agreement covered rolling out broadband to around 2,000 government sites, while Wi-Fi hotspots – for which the provincial government would provide free data – were also to be installed.

“By May 2016, all sites will be connected with minimum speeds of 10Mbps,” said Premier Helen Zille at the time.

“By August 2018, most sites will be connected by fibre with 90% of sites enjoying 100Mbps speeds and 10% enjoying 1Gbps speeds.”

These original deadlines for the project slipped, however, said the Western Cape government.

“The original number of government sites to be connected, which was close to 2,000, was revised down, due to some sites being closed, moved, or renovated,” it stated.

“The final number of sites connected is 1,875, and this target was achieved in November 2017. This includes schools, hospitals, clinics, libraries, and government offices.”

Line speeds

The line speed upgrades Zille originally announced will also take longer to roll out than anticipated.

“The agreement sets out increasing line speeds over the 10-year contract period,” said the government.

“These targets form phase two of the project. We estimate that we will reach 50% of the targeted 100Mbps line speed upgrades by June 2019.”

Under the original agreement, Neotel would fund the rollout of 384 Wi-Fi hotspots using government buildings. So far, 178 hotspots have been rolled out.

In addition to a limited amount of free data per month, the hotspot programme offers free access to government websites.

The province said this makes it easier for citizens to connect with government departments.

“The World Bank has shown that for every 10% increase in broadband penetration, GDP growth increases by 1.38%,” it said.

“Anecdotal evidence has shown that people have been able to secure jobs or educational opportunities using the free connectivity service.”

Now read: R5 for 700MB – Western Cape launching Neotel Wi-Fi hotspots

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Western Cape free Wi-Fi and 1Gbps fibre project update