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The City of Cape Town’s free Wi-Fi service reached a significant milestone this week when the number of public Wi-Fi Zones passed the 200 mark. Read more below:

The City now has 201 public Wi-Fi zones clustered in 78 locations spread across the metro area. In the past week, more than 84 000 residents have used the service.

Most of the Wi-Fi zones installed so far are in suburbs and centres that have been neglected by commercial service providers, or where residents find commercial internet services too expensive. These include Nyanga, Kraaifontein, Seawinds, Philippi and Khayelitsha, among others.

The Wi-Fi service operates on top of the City’s fibre-optic network, which both reduces the direct costs and ensures a high quality of service.

‘Our high-grade access points are connected to fibre-optic cables, which means that users enjoy access speeds of around 40 MB per second,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Corporate Services and Compliance, Councillor Xanthea Limberg.

The City has partnered with Always On, a commercial Wi-Fi provider which manages the connection to each user device and pays for the bandwidth. In exchange for the use of City’s network, Always On gives 100 MB of data to every user each day.

The combination of a significant daily data allowance, fast access speeds, and the wide distribution of Wi-Fi zones means a truly useful service that makes a difference to the lives of many residents.

‘We are able to do this at minimal cost to the ratepayer by using our own existing network infrastructure. We have achieved this with a capital budget of only R5 million for each of the last two years, which is much better value for money than the hundreds of millions that some other municipalities have spent by fully outsourcing the service – at the end of which they do not own any of the infrastructure they have paid for,’ said Councillor Limberg.

Since its inception, over 460 000 residents have used the public Wi-Fi service.

‘These are unique users, each of whom may have connected to the service multiple times. Last week, 338 438 connections were made by 84 070 different users. Other municipalities sometimes claim that each connection represents a unique user, but that is very misleading,’ added Councillor Limberg.

The City launched 10 new library-based SmartCape Wi-Fi zones in March, bringing the total to 24 out of our 102 public libraries which all boast free internet access for the City’s most vulnerable residents. Four more will be live by the end of April.

The number of public Wi-Fi zones will reach 250 by the end of June 2016. In March this year, 5,4 TB of data was downloaded via the public Wi-Fi zones and the SmartCape service together.

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