The City of Cape Town has rolled out 275 public Wi-Fi zones, clustered in more than 120 city-wide locations where members of the public congregate and queue for services. The provision of this free service shows that the City is committed to building a digitally inclusive city.
The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Corporate Services and Compliance, Councillor Xanthea Limberg unveiled three more free Wi-Fi zones in the Cape Town Central Business District (CBD.) The three newest zones are situated at the Gallows Hill Traffic Department, at the City Hall and in the Civic Centre.
The Good Hope Subcouncil Chairperson, Alderman Demetri Qually joined Councillor Limberg to test the newest Wi-Fi hotspots and the trials received a resounding thumbs-up.
Members of the public who make their way to these City facilities will be able to connect their Wi-Fi-enabled devices, such as cellphones, laptops and tablets, to the Wi-Fi. The basic use of the service will be free. Each person will receive a capped amount of data that will enable them to connect to their e-mails, read the news, engage in online social activities or to catch up on work while queuing for services.
‘The provision of Wi-Fi is a key part of our integration strategies where we aim to connect more people to services and opportunities.The combination of a daily data allowance, fast access speeds of 40 MB per second and the wide distribution of Wi-Fi zones, means a truly useful service that makes a difference to the lives of many residents.
‘This is a cornerstone of our strategy to build a city of opportunity and to help make progress possible for our residents. A lack of internet access could mean missed opportunities, which could prevent many people from achieving their goals and dreams,’ said Councillor Limberg.
Most of the Wi-Fi zones installed so far are in suburbs and centres that have been neglected by commercial service providers, or where residents find commercial internet services too expensive. These include areas such as Nyanga, Kraaifontein, Seawinds, Philippi and Khayelitsha.
To date, the City has unveiled 41 Wi-Fi zones in public libraries, which is in addition to the free internet access already available via the SmartCape facility at all City libraries. As a part of the upgrades at a number of the City’s health care facilities, 19 clinics have been connected to free Wi-Fi as part of the Digital Inclusion Project.
‘Our libraries and health facilities attract a large number of residents on a daily basis and the free Wi-Fi can be seen as a value added service. Digital access for communities can no longer be viewed as a privilege but more as a necessity. We will therefore continue to honour our commitment of becoming the most digitally-connected city in Africa,’ said Councillor Limberg.
The Wi-Fi service operates on top of the City’s fibre-optic network, which reduces the direct costs and ensures a high quality of service.
The City has partnered with Always On, a commercial Wi-Fi provider, which manages the connection to each user device and pays for the bandwidth. In exchange for the use of the City’s network, Always On provides data per day, to each user.
The free Wi-Fi is being provided at a minimal cost to our ratepayers by using our own existing network infrastructure. All of this has been achieved with a minimal capital budget of only R5m for each of the last two years.
About 60 more Wi-Fi zones are on the cards for the new financial year (2016/17) to be rolled out by June 2017.
For the current financial year, the City has a capital budget of R218m for its Broadband Network Roll-out Project. To date, an amount of R33m has been spent on rolling out a wireless network. A large portion of the budget has been dedicated to installing fibre-optic cables and switching capacity in various areas where there were previously no broadband infrastructure.
This investment in broadband infrastructure will result in a lasting asset that will benefit residents well into the future.