Liquid Telecom SA has partnered with The Western Cape Government (WCG) to increase the number of free public WiFi hotspots across the region from 178 to 1 600.

This will mean that 6,6-million residents will soon have greater access to public WiFi located at government buildings across the Western Cape.

The project forms part of a R3-billion plan to provide broadband connectivity to WCG offices, libraries, schools and clinics, and helps to position the Western Cape region as a leading global digital hub. Western Cape households already have the highest Internet access in the country at 70,8% according to StatsSA (2018).

“We have reached our target of full broadband coverage with a total of 1 875 sites, including over 1 200 schools; over 200 libraries and approximately 400 other public facilities,” says Western Cape Premier Helen Zille. “Broadband is a key enabler for our eLearning Game Changer, which aims to enhance teaching and learning using digital technology, focusing in particular on our poorer schools.

“It also focuses on preparing our learners for the 21st Century world of work and life-long learning. The WCED has invested R253-million towards e-learning in the 2018/ 2019 financial year and over R1,2-billion over a five-year period.

“During this term, we have refreshed 700 computer labs, delivered over 32 000 devices, created an online portal with 11 000 resources, trained teachers to a point where 70% are improving at e-teaching, and we will invest R1,2-billion into e-learning over the next five years.”

Reshaad Sha, CEO Liquid Telecom SA, comments: “Today’s announcement is aligned with Liquid Telecom’s vision to ‘Build Africa’s Digital Future’ providing individuals and communities with high speed internet across cities, towns and villages’. Our partnership with the Western Cape Government is central to this vision – giving every South African the right to be connected with free, reliable and fast internet.”

The new expanded public WiFi network will be available across all municipalities and provide 3GB of data per device per month at speeds five times faster than the current service. Government websites will also remain permanently free for users to access, and the country’s cheapest WiFi vouchers for additional data on the network are also still available at selected retailers.

Each of the public WiFi hotspots will allow users with Wi-Fi enabled devices including mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers to connect to the WiFi hotspot without any logins or passwords. The hotspots will be installed over the next 3 years, and the project will run for five years in total.

At present the service offers 178 active hotspots at government buildings across 12 municipalities in the province. It provides 250MB of free data per device per month, and just over 910 000 devices have connected to the network since it was launched in March 2016.