Wi-Fi for Cape Town townships

2013-06-20 14:00
(AP)

(AP)

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Cape Town – The City of Cape Town is currently conducting a feasibility study to make Wi-Fi internet available in Khayelitsha and Mitchell's Plain.

According to Zak Mbhele, spokesperson for premier Helen Zille, the wireless mesh network is planned to be established by the end of 2014.

"Khayelitsha and Mitchell's Plain have been identified as 'gap areas' when it comes to internet access and broadband penetration.

"The Western Cape Government wants to narrow the 'digital divide' so that people in poor communities also have equitable access to the opportunities that come from being connected to modern information systems."

Mbhele said because no wireless mesh model of this scale exists in South Africa, it was felt that a pilot project was first needed before considering further rollout into other communities. 

Funding

The City of Cape Town and the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) signed an agreement last year for a grant from the agency to fund the research of the feasibility study.

Mbhele said the final costs of the project are not yet known but funding is expected to come from a consortium of partners including all spheres of government and private sector ICT companies.

"Improved broadband penetration will create a more enabling environment for investment, economic growth and job creation. Businesses that are reliant on rapid and reliable connectivity will find that Khayelitsha and Mitchell's Plain becomes attractive sites of operation when they become one of the areas in Cape Town with the most advanced broadband infrastructure in the city and, more broadly in the Western Cape and South Africa."

According to Mbhele new economic opportunities could arise once a conducive context is created like smartphone applications related to municipal services, public transport or community events.

He said learners of Khayelitsha and Mitchell's Plain will be well-placed to be at the forefront of e-education and be able to access information easily that gives them the advantage to be competitive in the job market or as entrepreneurs.

The Wi-Fi access will not be free but it is likely that free access will be available for a limited period of time or up to a data cap like the first 100MB used. Unlimited free Wi-Fi may also be made available on weekends to attract people to spend their time in a particular area.

– Follow Chantelle on Twitter.
Read more on:    cape town  |  internet

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