Tshwane to double its free Wi-Fi zones

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There are 752 zones across Tshwane where residents can access the city’s award winning free internet service. The initiative, which recently won a World Wi- Fi Day Award for Most Innovative City or Government Programme to bridge the Digital Divide, will be increased by a further 700 city sites.World Wi-Fi Day is celebrated on 20 June and it supports projects and initiatives that brings broadband connectivity to the under-privileged in both developed and developing countries, reads its website.Kgosientso Ramokgopa, the city mayor, was proud and excited about the award. He said that the programme will continue “to be a shining example of what it means to employ the use of technology to lead the way towards a South Africa that is democratic, inclusive, united and prosperous – ours will be the global Cyber Capital.”Tshwane free Wi-Fi known as Tshwi-Fi is a collaborative initiative between the city and non-profit Project Isizwe. The non-profit was also shortlisted for its project in rural Limpopo which was recognised in the Best Wi-Fi Deployment to Connect the Unconnected in Rural Environment category. While it lost out to Liquid Telecom for their Free Wi-­Fi project in Nakuru County, Kenya, it has still brought thousands of rural households online.

The Tshwi-Fi programme

The Tshwi-Fi’s site and social media accounts give users information on what it offers. Here is an example of what the public can expect:Users can use the internet to download movies, but Tshwi-Fi also offers educational apps for children, information for parents or guardians on how to read and write for your child and access to books or research material.Launched in 2013, Tshwi-Fi has spread across public spaces predominantly in the low income communities like Soshanguve, Mamelodi and Atteridgeville. At 20:47 on the evening of 28 October 2015 the millionth new user logged on to the system. Tshwi-Fi is a part of the metro’s eKaelo strategy to build a city administration that is more responsive to its residents’ needs. At the end of 2015 there were 1 800 active government sponsored hot spots around the country. The majority of these were, according to research firm BMI-T, were a part of Tshwane’s programme.Each user receives a daily cap of 500MB. Research conducted by Project Isizwe found that only 7% of users reach 250MB cap per day. Among those users is Unisa student Daniel Nyaude, who uses the free access to research and complete his degree. Tshwi-Fi has changed his life and he encourages the city to grow the service.”Free Wi-Fi is a platform where people will access opportunities,” he said. “I urge the government to spread to more poor communities because they need this for their up-liftment. Cash is hard to come by these days and the issue of free Wi-Fi has ensured am in touch with what is happening around me and the world.”

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