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Christmas bonus for Tshwane Wi-Fi users

As Tshwane residents enjoy their traditional holiday at the coast, there’s a Christmas treat in store for visitors and those who remain behind. By Duncan Alfreds, NewsAgency

Project Isizwe, charged with implementing the City of Tshwane’s Wi-Fi build programme, announced that from December 24 to 26, the metro will offer free uncapped internet access.

“The ‘Christmas gift’ is possible due to many Tshwane residents leaving the city for holidays, reducing network load and creating an opportunity to provide users with more bandwidth at no extra cost to the city,” Alan Knott-Craig jnr of Project Isizwe told Fin24.

The non-governmental organisation has delivered over 700 Wi-Fi hotspots in the City of Tshwane where residents normally have access to 500MB of data.

The project has so far cost the city R180m and Knott-Craig justified the deployment by rejecting the monetisation model employed by other municipalities.

“Despite the sales propositions of many service providers, in the entire world to date there has not been a successful commercialisation of a public free Wi-Fi network by selling extra data. Ever. Not even airports can monetise Wi-Fi and they have a virtual monopoly on high-income users of the internet,” said Knott-Craig.

Free access

The Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality recently began rolling out its Wi-Fi access programme and will spend millions to expand the current 233 sites covered.

“We’re planning for anything between R80m and R120m to connect 695 Ekurhuleni buildings,” Lydia Ntlhophi, divisional head of ICT business relations management in the metro, recently told Fin24.

In Cape Town, the Wi-Fi access programme is set to expand by 120 sites in addition to the current 170 by the end of the year.

Knott-Craig lambasted the Cape Town model of Wi-Fi delivery.

“Cape Town is based upon a ‘paid-for’ model and is primarily targeted at businesses and high-income households. The only model that is 100% guaranteed to fail is selling extra data, ie: Cape Town.”

He said that free internet access should be guaranteed as it could benefit the economy or be used as a method to increase collections on unpaid municipal bills.

“Internet access is like water – a utility. The poor should be entitled to a daily free quota. Cities must find the budget to do so. Unlike water, internet access has a proven multiplier effect on the local economy, resulting in higher tax revenues,” he said. – Fin24


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