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The City of Tshwane, in partnership with the free Wi-Fi crusade Project Isizwe, has launched more than 200 new free internet zones. Centered at schools in the Tshwane area, this move sees the city become one of largest free Wi-Fi providers in South Africa.
The move follows Phase 1 of the non-profit, Project Isizwe, which last year in November rolled out free internet zones to Soshanguve, Hatfield, Church Square, Tshwane North College and Mamelodi Community Centre.
Besides allowing users 250Mb per day of free browsing, a specialised content portal, Tobetsa, is available for unlimited access and designed to give free WiFi users the opportunity to make the most of what the internet has to offer.
Users have free, unlimited access to sites like Wikipedia, Gumtree Job Search, education portal Siyavula, mobile reading site FundZA, as well as news sites such as eNCA and CNBC Africa.
“This unprecedented intervention will juxtapose Tshwane as an e-Capital of excellence and a driver of education in the country aligned to the creation of a Smart City and a knowledge economy,” Tshwane Executive Mayor, Cllr. Kgosientso Ramokgopa said.
Since the implementation of Phase 1, one entrepreneur in Soshanguve reported an 80% increase in revenue since the free WiFi went live thanks to students choosing to sit at her stall and buy food whilst surfing the net.
In August 2014, the City will begin deployment of Phase 3, comprising 400 sites and capacity for a further 2 million users, with an emphasis on healthcare facilities throughout its low-income communities. By 2015 the free Wi-Fi project hopes to have capacity for at least 3 million people.
“The City of Tshwane is showing the Country that internet access can be treated as a basic service, the same as water and electricity,” said Project Isizwe CEO Alan Knott-Craig.