Once again the Western Cape is at the forefront of online innovation thanks to the decision of the Western Cape provincial government to launch 384 WiFi hotspots in strategic locations across the province. This is part of their initiative to bring free and cost effective WiFi to all citizens by 2019. With the help of Neotel 50 of 384 planned public access WiFi hotspots have already “gone live” and the provincial government, as well as various Western Cape municipalities, are now actively rolling out new internet access projects which are seen as key economic enablers.
The launch of the first 50 WiFi Hotspots was accompanied by a joint statement from the Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and the Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde:
“While there are a few small-scale municipal WiFi projects on the go, no other provincial administration is undertaking a connectivity project of this scale. We are also the only province focused on bringing connectivity to rural areas, with a hotspot in every single ward no matter where you are.”
It is widely known that Cape Town has already set aside R236m that is to be utilised over the course of the 2015/2016 financial year for the roll-out of broadband infrastructure, this includes FREE Internet for schools as explained in one of our previous blogs, which you can read here. This in turn is just a small part of an even larger Western Cape Government R1.3bn broadband infrastructure project which is going to, with the help of the State Information and Technology Agency (Sita) and Neotel, bring high-speed broadband to more than 1,900 public buildings. A total of 692 schools have already been connected, as well as more than 90 libraries and 160 corporate sites.
How Will The New Free WiFi Work?
The WiFi hotspots will be mounted on the external walls of buildings in the province and point towards the community that they will be serving. This means that in most cases people within 200m of the hotspot will be able to use the service at no charge. However, it has been announced that there will be:
- 300MB per month of free browsing available on their first connection.
- Thereafter 250MB per month will be made available to users.
- There will be unlimited browsing of government websites.
- A FREE digital literacy course will be offered online.
If data runs out users can purchase a 700MB for R5, 2G for R15 and 7G for R45. As an added bonus all purchased data will only expire in 2024.