VAST Networks (VAST) is well-known for offering Wi-Fi access in transport hubs, malls, and office parks, but less so for the work it has done in townships.
The company started its township project in 2017, with the aim to give 1.5 million Gauteng township residents an affordable alternative to access the Internet.
Diepsloot residents were the first to benefit from this initiative, with free access to high-speed Internet through VAST’s WiFi network.
VAST CEO Grant Marais told MyBroadband that the Diepsloot network currently serves 90,000 users per month, with an 11% month-on-month growth rate.
VAST’s Diepsloot and Katlehong networks
VAST has built a robust Wi-Fi network in the township, which is supported by a passive optical network (PON) from Link Africa.
At each location where it offers coverage, VAST installed a cabinet, a router (Cisco 2921 or Cisco 4331), switches, and a number of wireless access points (APs).
“There is at least one Ruckus AP inside the venue – more if the venue is large enough – and multiple external Ruckus APs to provide maximum coverage from the venue as an anchor point,” said VAST CTO Khetan Gajjar.
Each venue where VAST offers coverage is configured with at least a 100Mbps circuit – sometimes more.
The traffic from the Wi-Fi network gets backhauled from Diepsloot and Katlehong to VAST’s data center in Parklands, where it has an external network-to-network interface (ENNI) with Link Africa.
“All the access points aggregate back to our central core in either Johannesburg or Cape Town – in case of failure of Johannesburg core – and our full suite of services, including offload and analytics, is available,” said Gajjar.
The maps below provide an overview of the VAST network points on Diepsloot and Ketlehong.
The speed tests below show the excellent speeds enjoyed by township residents on VAST’s network.
The images below provide an overview of the devices used and demographics of the VAST network users in Diepsloot.