Residents can surf for free

2015-05-05 06:00
The hotspot area stretches bwtween the Library and Eisleben Road. This is the map provided to People’s Post by the City of Cape Town.

PHOTO: 
Samantha lee

The hotspot area stretches bwtween the Library and Eisleben Road. This is the map provided to People’s Post by the City of Cape Town. PHOTO: Samantha lee

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Agenerous international investment has made it possible for the City of Cape Town to turn Lentegeur library into a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The library is the first hotspot in Mitchell’s Plain and provides free data in a range from the library to seven other areas within a block bordered by Morgenster and Eisleben roads.

Residents within this Wi-Fi access range are invited to use it to WhatsApp and surf the internet free of charge.

The United States trade and development agency (USTDA) provided $335 000 (approximately R3.9 million) in funding for a feasibility study that led to the project which resulted in the establishment of the free Wi-Fi hotspots.

On Monday 23 March the City hosted the USTDA at the Lentegeur library.

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for corporate services, says the ­facility is one of 69 others with a Wi-Fi hotspot which is open to the public.

“Our plan is to have a total of 130 Wi-Fi hotspots fully installed by the close of the 2014/2015 financial year. Our new public ­access Wi-Fi hotspot digital inclusion project has been made possible as part of the City’s R1.3 billion universal broadband network strategy which is geared towards rolling out a comprehensive broadband infrastructure network throughout the metro by 2017,” she said at the visit.

The purpose of the visit was to take the USTDA delegation on a walk-about to view and test the new public access Wi-Fi hotspots to show the progress made to date in rolling out a comprehensive network throughout Cape Town.

The delegation was led by USTDA director Leocadia Zak.

“I am delighted to be back in Cape Town to see how the partnership we established three years ago is helping the City realize its internet connectivity goals. Digital ­inclusion will support the provision of education, health care and other critical services. It will also promote business development and overall economic growth,” she said.

The City first became involved with the USTDA as part of an investment programme. “The United States government funds the feasibility study of projects which have significant merit, but are also in need of further studies in order to convert the idea into action,” Limberg said.

She explained that although the USTDA funded the study, it did not fund the installation of the infrastructure. “This programme does not fund the physical construction, but rather the technical and feasibility studies which then inform the subsequent implementation phases.”

The feasibility study provided the City with a proof of concept project that has ­resulted in the establishment of the free Wi-Fi hotspots. The $335 000 was spent on the initial feasibility study which sought to assess the sustainability and ­financial viability of providing wireless connections directly into the homes of residents in Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain. “This proof of concept study paved the way for the current digital inclusion project model which is now well on its way to being completed,” Limberg said.

To date several other hotspots have been established in Cape Town, including the Hillstar administrative building, Plumstead administrative building, Harare library and Cape Town civic centre.

“To log on, residents need to select one of the open service providers and then provide limited information that will enable us to understand usage as this helps us plan for future roll-outs,” Limberg said.

“As part of the City’s ongoing commitment to public-private partnerships, we have engaged with three commercial service providers on this project [Mweb, ­Orange and Internet Solutions],” she said.

Mweb has provided an uncapped data service for the trial period. Orange initially ­offered a free 200MB of data per person per day that had subsequently been increased to 3GB per day from 2 February. Internet ­Solutions has offered a free data service of 50MB per person per day.

More hotspots are planned, although a ­detailed plan could not be disclosed to People’s Post at the time of going to print.

V

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