MyBroadband tested the City of Tshwane’s free Wi-Fi service and was surprised to find that some sites still work, even though the app seems to have disappeared.
The City of Tshwane provides residents with 1 GB of data per day at speeds of up to 15 Mbps at the free TshWi-Fi locations.
The City of Tshwane also has an app that allows users to find a nearby hotspot. It also hosts past exam papers and supports calls to mobile and landline numbers.
When we tried to download the app, we couldn’t find any trace of it on the Google Play Store.
We found an older version of the app on a third-party site, but it froze as soon as we opened it. It may well contain malicious code as it came from a third party.
The TshWi-Fi website was also not very helpful in providing any information about the service or where to find a hotspot. It only seems to be a collection of blog posts and advertisements.
However, we found a page about the service on the Tshwane website that lists the hotspot locations and other information.
MyBroadband visited five different sites to see if we could connect and use the service. Only two of the sites worked.
In a few cases, multiple hotspots are based at the same location, like the Centurion Squash Club, Alpha Centurion Runners, and the Racing Pigeon Club.
These clubs are all located on the same piece of land, and when we arrived on Monday morning, they were all closed.
We tried to connect to the TshWi-Fi network outside of these locations, but our device could not pick up any trace of it.
At the Pierre van Ryneveld Library, clinic, squash, and tennis courts, which also seem to share a hotspot, we could see the network but could not connect.
The network disappeared as soon as we tried connecting.
This problem may be linked to a configuration problem, as the signal was strong when we could see the network.
We also had trouble connecting at the Doringkloof Tennis club. The club was closed when we arrived, and we could not see the network from outside.
The Irene Library was our first successful stop. The network provided good coverage in the area.
We could connect to the open network, and after providing our name, surname, email address, gender, and age group on an insecure form, we were given Internet access.
Speed tests achieved an average download speed of 2.87 Mbps — nowhere near the promised 15 Mbps.
It should be said that the connection was stable and was good enough for students without home Internet to hand in an assignment or write an online test.
We also tested the hotspot at Lyttleton Library, which used the same login system.
While we could not access this network from outside, the helpful people working there guided us to a spot where we could sit and enjoy a strong connection.
Here we achieved an average download speed of 8.13 Mbps, suitable for most work tasks.
The 1 GB limit may be a problem when streaming video, but it is enough for visiting websites, sharing documents for work or studies, and related tasks.
We also tried using Surfshark VPN for more security, as we were on a public network, but it refused to connect at both sites.
While we only got two connections working, we were happy to see these were at public libraries.
Libraries should be hubs where people can find information, and having free Internet is a good start.