The city of Tshwane will increase the roll-out of free WiFi to connect more people as the city aims to become the cyber capital, Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa said on Thursday.
He was delivering his State of the City address, where he told guests at Freedom Park that access to the internet was critical in the fight to improve the lives of those exposed to the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
“Our free WiFi project has radically undermined the adverse effects of unaffordable internet access by narrowing the hitherto glaring digital divide,” he said.
“Today we dare say without doubt that indeed ours was such a unique innovation that we can claim and declare that our city is now one big internet hotspot, earning the brand TshWiFi, which from here on will characterise the City’s full digital offering.”
Ramokgopa said that since the introduction of free WiFi in 2015, they had seen over one million devices utilising the service. They had since increased the megabytes for daily use.
“Since inception, over 1.4 million unique devices have accessed the TshWi-Fi network, representing a 328 percentage increase since March 2015, and a monthly growth rate of 15% on average.
“Initially, we offered a daily cap of 250 megabytes and speeds of one megabyte per second. Today, the daily cap has been increased by 100% to 500 megabytes and the average speeds are a whopping 15 times faster,” said Ramokgopa.
He said the city now had 776 TshWi-Fi zones, with a total of 261 sites deployed within the last twelve months alone; resulting in Tshwane being the largest WiFi network on the African continent. He said they were offering a holistic package that went further than providing people with data to roam the internet.
“Ours is not just a free data service, but offers a suite of services, such as TshWi-Fi TV, TshWi-Fi Voice, TshWi-Fi Drive-ins at Fountains Valley, TshWi-Fi Chat, and our revolutionary safety and security app, Namola, which is now live! Namola will enable residents to immediately and anonymously share their GPS co-ordinates of crimes in progress with our Tshwane Metro Police and is envisaged to reduce response times by 14 times,” said Ramokgopa.
He said, in the coming year, they would be doubling the size of the TshWi-Fi network, ensuring that over 50% of citizens were within walking distance of a TshWi-Fi zone. He said the City would be rolling out 1 500km of broadband fibre at no additional cost, with a focus on outlying areas of the city.
He said the broadband network would enable them to better connect with citizens by bringing more e-services to residents, enabling them to transact.
“This intervention will also facilitate the rollout TshWi-Fi to all areas in the city, including those locations where it would have been impossible to reach due to a severe lack of telecommunications infrastructure.
“We will continue to be a shining example of what it means to employ the use of technology to lead the way towards a South Africa that is democratic, inclusive, united and prosperous – ours will be the global Cyber Capital,” said Ramokgopa.