Cape Town to offer free Wi-Fi at city bus stations

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PASSENGERS on Cape Town’s MyCiTi rapid bus service could soon enjoy free WiFi access while travelling or waiting at the station.

The city is conducting a pilot project with an external entity ahead of the planned roll-out. The aim was to attract more people to make use of the city’s public transport service and allow passengers to do their work while travelling. Should these plans go ahead they would place Cape Town ahead of Gauteng.

In his State of the City address in April Joburg mayor Parks Tau announced that free Wi-fi was available at nine stations of the city’s rapid bus service, Rea Vaya.

On the other hand, the Gautrain has been promising cellphone and internet connectivity for more than two years.

The announcement by Ms de Lille is the latest push by the city to expand WiFi connectivity. It also comes as the South African National Taxi Council is also rolling out its own free WiFi access programme. Earlier this year the council announced that a total of 1,500 taxis and 50 taxi ranks around the country would have access to free limited WiFi.

Ms de Lille also revealed that the city has partnered with three commercial service providers — MWEB, Internet Solutions, and Paris-based international telecommunications giant Orange — to expand internet connectivity to previously disadvantaged communities throughout the metro. Orange, will offer a free 200 megabytes data bundle per day. Internet Solutions will offer a free data bundle of 50 megabytes per day, and MWEB will provide an uncapped data bundle for a trial period.

“Our brand new WiFi 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. This forms part of the city’s R1,3bn programme to complete the roll-out over the next seven years,” Ms de Lille said.

Speaking via video link from Paris, CEO of Orange Sebastien Crozeir said that the company was happy to partner with Cape Town “to help reduce the digital divide”.

The Western Cape provincial government and the City of Cape Town have given broadband infrastructure a lot of attention in recent times saying it is a key economic enabler.

The National Development Plan recognises that broadband plays a crucial role in economic growth, development and job creation. Earlier this year the provincial government launched its free WiFi pilot project in Delft, Atlantis, Robertson and the Garden Route.

About 90,000 residents are expected to benefit. The provincial government was aiming to provide universal access to the internet to all its residents by 2030.

Last year the city said internet users in Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha would enjoy six months of free WiFi while authorities considered ways to create an affordable WiFi network throughout the city. She said by the end of June 2015 free WiFi would be provided at 61 city buildings across the metro.

© BDlive 2014

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