Century City Connect’s huge free Wi-Fi project

Cape Town’s Century City recently started rolling out a free Wi-Fi service to the public, called Let’s Connect.

Let’s Connect is the Wi-Fi arm of Century City Connect, the company which operates a last-mile open-access fibre network within the suburb.

MyBroadband spoke to Hein de Swardt, a director of Century City Connect, about the Wi-Fi roll-out and how it will benefit users.

Rolling out free Wi-Fi

The free Wi-Fi service is being launched in partnership with ISP Comtel Communications.

The first area to benefit from the new service is Century City Square – a commercial and hospitality hub – along with parts of the Century City Hotel and Conference Centre.

De Swardt said Century City Connect (CCC) has deployed 86 access points and plans to install an additional 100 APs in the near future.

The usage

Following a once-off registration process, users will receive four free hours of uncapped usage per day on the network.

“Users can log in with their details or via one of their social media accounts,” said de Swardt.

To ensure all users have a good experience, certain limitations have been put in place.

Torrent downloads and adult content are two of the blocked services.

“Multiple security features have been implemented, torrent filtering being one of them.”

“Users can load their torrent clients and attempt to hide the torrent traffic as normal web or secure traffic, but the solution implemented by CCC uses a combination of layer 3 to 7 fire-walling to block torrents at multiple levels, DNS, ports, content, etc,” said de Swardt.

He said rate limiting will also be implemented, allowing for legitimate peer-to-peer services such as Microsoft updates to work, while not consuming all the available bandwidth.

“I’m sure there will be people who try to circumvent the filters that we have put in place, but we will try to monitor and block these users.”

The blocking of adult content is based on domain name blocking, and is in addition to the filtering of botnets, and phishing and malware-infected websites.

Unlimited browsing

On top of the four hours of uncapped usage, users will also receive unlimited usage when accessing certain sites.

Educational and job websites receive unlimited connectivity.

“We also looked at all the top sites accessed in South Africa last year and added them to this white list which can be accessed 24 hours a day for free,” said de Swardt.

These sites include Gumtree.co.za, News24.com, Wikipedia.org, Facebook.com, and MyBroadband.co.za.

The speeds

De Swardt said the real-world speeds users receive on the network are based on a fair use policy and the management of contention ratios.

“Each AP is configured to provide users 10Mbps up and 10Mbps down, thus allowing for fair use and multiple concurrent sessions.”

The backhaul of the Wi-Fi service is currently a 200Mbps fibre line from Comtel.

“This is monitored and will be upgraded if capacity becomes a problem,” he said.

Now read: Best ADSL, FTTH, and Mobile ISPs in South Africa

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Century City Connect’s huge free Wi-Fi project