Cape Town rolls out free Wi-Fi in public buildings

21 November 2014

Sixty-one public buildings in the City of Cape Town will have free Wi-Fi by the end of June 2015, the executive mayor of the city, Patricia de Lille has announced.

Wi-Fi will be provided inside public buildings via the City’s 102 SmartCape computer facilities and externally via 61 public access hotspots in places where the public usually queue for services, according to De Lille.

The external public amenities include clinics, administration buildings, traffic departments, fire stations and public transport interchanges in areas such as Langa, Nyanga, Uitsig, Valhalla Park, Athlone and Atlantis.

In a statement De Lille said each access point will cost the City between R60 000 and R100 000 to install. “Our 102 internal public access facilities are situated inside the City’s libraries, where we currently have 679 729 registered users,’ she said.

The public will be able to access free Wi-Fi at the Bellville, Robbie Nurocklinic and Khayelitsha Site B Youth clinics by the end of December this year. Members of the public visiting the Hillstar and Plumstead administrative buildings and the Mitchells Plain and Nyanga switching centres will also be able to enjoy free Wi-Fi by the end of this year as well.

De Lille said the city of Cape Town is partnering with three commercial service providers – MWEB, Internet Solutions and Orange – to expand internet connectivity to previously disadvantaged communities across the city.

“The partnership with Orange is a first for the Paris-based international telecommunications giant in South Africa; they will offer a free 200 MB data bundle per day. Internet Solutions will offer a free data bundle of 50 MB per day, while MWEB will provide an uncapped data bundle for the trial period,’ said De Lille.

This digital inclusion project forms is part of the City’s R1.3-billion seven-year broadband network strategy. The City has a vision to become “the first truly digital city in Africa’, according to De Lille.

“Our brand new Wi-Fi provision has been made possible by the City’s investment in broadband fibre optic networks in line with its City’s Universal Broadband Network strategy, which is geared towards rolling out broadband infrastructure throughout the metro,’ said De Lille, adding that by expanding broadband infrastructure, the City is well on the way to realising its vision of facilitating access to high-speed internet in order to support economic development and expand opportunities to residents.

In addition, the City is mulling providing Wi-Fi on MyCiTi buses and, already, the City is in the process of conducting a pilot project with an external service provider. “We will also be accelerating the digital inclusion project by providing broadband access through the Bandwidth Barn at Lookout Hill,’ added De Lille.

The public Wi-Fi project demonstrates the City’s commitment to provide broadband connectivity to all citizens, opening up opportunities in the process, according to De Lille.

“Broadband connectivity and digital inclusion are fundamental to creating an enabling environment for business development, economic growth and social cohesion. Our new public Wi-Fi provision is a prime example of how the private sector, government and the public can make progress possible, together,’ said De Lille.

SAinfo reporter