WCG and Liquid Telecom expand public Wi-Fi services in Western Cape
29 November 2018
This project forms part of a R3 billion plan to expand on broadband connectivity in Western Cape Government libraries, schools, clinics and offices, and helps to position the region as a leading global digital hub.
Western Cape households already have the highest Internet access in the country at 70,8% according to StatsSA (2018), and the Western Cape Government (WCG) has partnered with Liquid Telecommunications SA (LTSA) to further extend this advantage by expanding the number of limited free Public Wi-Fi hotspots at government buildings to 1600, with an increased data allocation, and at faster speeds.
Most people and communities in rural, remote areas rely heavily on mobile phones to stay in touch and conduct business. Since mobile broadband costs are still very high to many citizens, public access Wi-Fi networks present an opportunity for citizens to connect, not only to each other but also to employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.
The current WCG-LTSA Public Wi-Fi Hotspot project is active at 178 government buildings across 12 municipalities in the Province and provides 250MB of free data per device per month. Over 910,000 devices have connected to the network since it was launched in March 2016 and currently use over 12TB of data per month.
The new expanded public Wi-Fi network will be available across all municipalities, now with a big boost of 3GB of data per device per month at speeds 5 times faster than the current service.
Government websites will also remain permanently free for users to access, and the country’s cheapest Wi-Fi vouchers for additional data on the network are also still available at selected retailers. Top-up data – at R15 for 2 GBs – is by far the country’s cheapest, in fact, it is over 40 times cheaper than the lowest denomination offering from a mobile operator.
Each of the Public Wi-Fi Hotspots will allow users with Wi-Fi enabled devices including mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers to connect to the Wi-Fi hotspot without any logins or passwords. The hotspots will be installed over the next 3 years, and the project will run for 5 years in total.
Broadband is a Game Changer
We also know that the way in which young people interact, engage and learn is changing, and we understand the importance of connectivity in creating opportunity and opening up a world of knowledge for people of all ages.
The Western Cape Government’s (WCG) Broadband Game Changer is striving towards a region where every resident in every town and village has access to affordable high-speed broadband infrastructure and services, has the necessary skills to use it, and is actively doing so in their day-to-day lives.
We have reached our target of full broadband coverage with a total of 1 875 sites, including over 1 200 schools; over 200 libraries and approximately 400 other public facilities.
Broadband is a key enabler for our eLearning Game Changer, which aims to enhance teaching and learning using digital technology, focusing in particular on our poorer schools. It also focuses on preparing our learners for the 21st Century world of work and life-long learning. The WCED has invested R253 million towards e-learning in the 2018/ 2019 financial year.
During this term, we have refreshed 700 computer labs, delivered over 32 000 devices, created an online portal with 11 000 resources, trained teachers to a point where 70% are improving at eTeaching, and we will invest R1.2 billion into eLearning over the next 5 years.
What the Public Wi-Fi Internet Access Project means for users who connect:
- Stable and reliable Wi-Fi hotspots.
- Easy access to a limited allocation of free Internet (3GB per user device per month).
- Unlimited free access to .gov.za websites (any time, on any connected device).
- The development of ICT and other skills development and improved levels of digital literacy.
- South Africa’s most affordable Wi-Fi Internet Access once the free allocation is used up – from R5/day (limited to 700 MB) to R45/month (limited to 5 GB).
Who has access?
Anyone with a Wi-Fi enabled device can use the service. Devices that are within the coverage area of a hotspot located at any of the 1600 sites in the Western Cape will be able to use the limited free Wi-Fi service.
Connected and empowered
As we continue to roll out the Wi-Fi network across the province, we look forward to closing the digital divide as access and usage of internet reaches all our citizens, and to help stimulate local economic development, by providing a connected, enabling environment for businesses to grow. The WCG aims to harness the opportunities presented by the digital economy by rolling out supplementary projects that leverage the improved connectivity in the region, including skills projects for citizens, and business-focused initiatives that improve competitiveness and create an enabling environment for economic growth and improved employment opportunities.
Benefits related to hotspots
- Increased access to job opportunities, information and transactional opportunities.
- Increased usage of hotspots for educational purposes.
- Improved safety at premises.
- Opportunity for improved service delivery.
- Decrease the digital divide.
How it will work
The Wi-Fi hotspots will be mounted on the external walls of the buildings, and will point out towards the nearby community. Depending on topography, the hotspots have a range of up to 200m depending on the environment.
If you need any help connecting, or have any questions about the service, contact:
Phone: 0860 636 835
How to connect
- Go to device settings on your Wi-Fi enabled device.
- Turn on Wi-Fi.
- Search for Wi-Fi Networks.
- Select NeoHotspot.
- Click Connect.
- Start browsing!
INTERNET ACCESS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Access to the Internet has a significant impact on economic development over time helping to increase GDP, create jobs, allowing entrepreneurs to emerge and increasing the number of services offered. It also provides a platform for selling goods (e-Commerce) and enables individuals and businesses to source better prices and become price competitive.
E-Commerce is growing at a rate of around 30% a year, with the growth showing no signs of slowing down. The result is that an Internet economy worth R59-billion in 2011 and making up 2% of the South African economy, will grow to as much as 2.5% of the economy by 2016.
The World Bank has shown that a 10% increase in broadband penetration results in a 1.38% increase in GDP. Online communication and collaboration is critical for entrepreneurship, with basic services like email and instant messaging unlocking a potential explosion in opportunity and job creation in environments where the unemployment rate is 24.5% (South Africa 2015 Q4). Ericsson, a global telecommunications company, has reported that every 1,000 new broadband connections have an impact of creating 80 new jobs and also improves the volume of new businesses registered by around 5%.
Access to the Internet makes e-services more accessible to communities that would otherwise not be able to utilize this new way of service delivery. This helps with the number of customers obtaining and paying for bills on time and being able to access information without increasing call volumes to a department call centre. These improvements, in turn, help to improve the efficiency of service delivery and enhance the quality of life.
Deploying limited free Internet zones through public Wi-Fi hotspots will make a significant impact in achieving improved social and economic inclusion and will help improve the growth rate of the economy over time.
After the free 250MB of data, LTSA is offering a Wi-Fi solution that is significantly cheaper than the norm – more than 10 times cheaper than the lowest denomination offering from a similar Wi-Fi provider and over 40 times cheaper than the lowest denomination offering from a mobile operator. It provides its end users (those accessing the Wi-Fi in predominantly low-income areas) an alternative to a product they would otherwise have to pay significantly more for each day.
“Today’s announcement is aligned with Liquid Telecom’s vision to ‘Build Africa’s Digital Future’ providing individuals and communities with high-speed internet across cities, towns and villages’. Our partnership with the Western Cape Government is central to this vision - giving every South African the right to be connected with free, reliable and fast internet.” said Reshaad Sha, CEO Liquid Telecom SA.