18/05/09. More and more school children are using the internet. Picture: Damaris Helwig

Cape Town - Internet users in Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha will enjoy six months of free wi-fi while the City of Cape Town looks at ways to create an affordable wi-fi network throughout the city.

More than a million people in underserviced areas will eventually get fast and affordable internet access.

The city is putting to use donated equipment used in all the stadiums countrywide during the 2010 World Cup, said Leon van Wyk, the city’s manager of telecommunications.

This equipment, valued at about R115-million, enhanced the bandwidth connectivity of the city’s fibre-optic network.

Mayor Patricia de Lille demonstrated the city’s connectivity on Thursday by holding a joint media conference via a live feed with councillors who were at the Harare library in Khayelitsha.

She said the city had set aside R222m over the next three years for its broadband infrastructure, in addition to the R51m already spent in the past financial year. The rewards had been substantial, with an annual saving of R25m in telecommunication charges that the city could use to expand its broadband network.

The first phase of the broadband project went live in June. De Lille said 90 buildings were connected via broadband fibre and 25 clinics could now use either fibre-optic or wireless connections.

 

De Lille said the city was also looking at ways of extending affordable network access to under-served areas. It had completed a feasibility study, funded by a US grant, to look at the suitability of its fibre-optic backbone as a basis for creating affordable wi-fi in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain.

 

The city would fund a six-month experimental phase, starting in December.

Depending on the outcome, the city would then partner with licensed third-party service providers to offer affordable internet directly to these areas. - Cape Argus