Premier Zille Joins Ministers in Launching Free WiFi in Atlantis
On 27 August 2014, Premier Helen Zille, Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, and the Minister of Education, Debbie Schäfer, officially launched free wireless internet in Atlantis, connecting 20 000 residents.
The launch follows the recent rollout of free wireless internet in George, where an additional 20 000 people will now be able to connect to the internet.
The free WiFi initiative is a pilot project forming part of the Western Cape Government’s R1.3 billion broadband plan to connect the province’s residents to affordable internet.
In Atlantis, the Free WiFi project is being run by the non-profit organisation, Project Isizwe, in partnership with Neotel.
Project Isizwe aims to connect people to the internet across South Africa by facilitating the rollout of free WiFi in public spaces in low-income communities for the purpose of education, economic development and social inclusion.
Low-income schools in Atlantis have been chosen as the focal points, resulting in limited Free Internet Zones (FIZs) that are now available at the following 4 schools:
- Saxonsea Secondary school: 1 380 learners will be reached
- Atlantis Secondary school: 1 700 learners will be reached
- Robinvale High school: 1 163 learners will be reached
- Proteus Secondary school: 1 186 learners will be reached
This is a total of 5 429 learners in Atlantis alone, that will benefit from this project. The greater community will also benefit, with the estimated WiFi capacity that caters for 20 000 users in Atlantis.
A fair usage policy will limit users to a data cap of 250MB per device per day and prohibits access to certain websites to protect against abuse of the free service. Besides allowing users 250MB per day of free browsing, a specialised content portal, "Tobetsa" will allow unlimited browsing of government online services, as well as educational and job-searching resources such as Wikipedia and Gumtree.
Premier Zille said the Western Cape Government was one step closer towards its goal of connecting the whole province to affordable internet. “Residents of Atlantis will now have an opportunity to connect to the internet, to access a range of opportunities including finding jobs, start and expanding businesses and completing school projects. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this new facility and the range of economic opportunities, it will provide access too”. she said.
Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde said the prohibitive cost of bandwidth had previously restricted access to internet for many.
“A 5GB bundle on a mobile device typically costs R362. Through this initiative, residents of Atlantis will be able to access that same amount of data for free over a month’s period. It’s been proven that internet access is a major catalyst for job creation. The World Bank estimates that every 10% increase in high speed internet in developing countries results in a 1.3% increase in economic growth,” said Minster Winde.
Minster of Education, Debbie Schäfer said the free WiFi would improve education and “enable teachers to access this material in order to assist them with teaching techniques as well as accessing additional material to make their lessons more interesting”.
“There is a great deal of material online that can assist learners, particularly those in poorer communities, who often find it difficult to access resources that are easily available to learners in wealthier schools and communities”, said Minister Schäfer.
“Neotel is incredibly pleased to be so intrinsically involved with Project Isizwe. Today, access to the internet has become a basic need for every individual. Increasing broadband access to South Africans has positive and far reaching economic benefits for the community and we look forward to working with Project Isizwe, so that we can all look forward to a more connected South Africa”, Sunil Joshi, MD and CEO of Neotel added.
An additional launch will take place in Delft later this year.