Google launches free Wi-Fi for Cape Flats

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Residents in the Cape Flats will now be able to enjoy free unlimited Wi-Fi through Google. The tech company has launched its free public Wi-Fi hotspot programme, Google Station, to make the internet more accessible to low-income communities.

In an announcement made yesterday at the first ‘Google for South Africa’ event in Johannesburg, the tech company said they worked in collaboration with Think Wifi to install over 100 Wi-Fi towers, coined Google Stations, in key areas across the Cape Flats to provide free access to the internet.

Google Station has already been running in countries across the world such as the Phillipines, Nigeria and India. Now it is in South Africa, where it will cover areas such as Langa, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Delft, Elsies River, Philippi and more.

“Today, we’re announcing Google Station for the Cape Flats in the Western Cape – a program to provide fast, free and open Wi-Fi hotspots in partnership with ThinkWifi, an Internet service provider in South Africa,” said Nitin Gajria, Regional Director of Google Africa.

“Google Station is available in more than 100 locations across Langa, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Delft, Elsies River, Philippi and more. These areas are some of the most underserved communities with high unemployment and crime rates. By gaining access to information via the internet, we hope that people in these communities will get a more equal opportunity to learn and develop and live more empowered lives.”

Access to the internet in Africa is a right few possess. Google reports that only 39% of Africans have access to the web. Those without access are left to rely on the limited public Wi-Fi hotspots to connect, communicate and learn.

“Through our partnership, Think WiFi and Google will provide unlimited Wi-Fi access to communities in townships, public areas, universities, transportation hubs and shopping malls, laying the foundations for broad-based, inclusive participation in the benefits industry 4.0 brings,” says Think WiFi CEO Janine Rebelo.

To make use of the free Wi-Fi, people must simply connect to the “Free Google Station-ThinkWiFi” network, watch a short advert, click continue and wait for the Wi-Fi to connect. Once connected, users have 30 minutes browsing time but may add extra 30 minutes as many times as they want.