Free wi-fi coming to Town Centre

Mitchell’s Plain contractors are hard at work installing infrastructure to supply free wi-fi to the central business district (CBD), including Town Centre and surrounding areas.

This forms part of the Plein Chamber of Commerce’s bid to make internet access a human right.

Sean Achim, chief executive officer and chairman of the chamber, said they would like the first phase of their vision to be completed before Christmas.

Together with Cell C they will provide free internet access, up to 100 megabytes a day, given at speeds of at least 2mbps (megabits per second) a second, to anyone.

“The wi-fi is free, carrier grade and comes with huge investment. There will be no intrusive phone calls or messaging from marketing and advertising agencies, as applicable to most other wi-fi offerings,” he said.

In a bid to prevent vandalism and theft, the chamber insisted on involving the community and marketing the service.

The area which will receive wi-fi coverage is bordered by AZ Berman Drive, Fifth Avenue, Wespoort Road and Wall Street in Portland.

It includes Mitchell’s Plain community health centre, the transport interchange and informal trading areas.

The success of this initial phase will determine the roll-out of many more areas to have complete coverage next year.

Training will be provided to interested contractors, to have them pre-qualified for all similar projects in 2019.

The City of Cape Town’s public wi-fi service currently only provides access to the internet using wi-fi within municipal-owned buildings that are open to the public, including libraries, clinics and cash offices.

The exceptions are trial installations at the Mitchell’s Plain taxi interchange and other areas in the metro such as the Company’s Garden in Cape Town.

In Mitchell’s Plain wi-fi is available in areas including in and around the Town Centre library and the Joe Gqabi complex.

Eddie Andrews, councillor for Ward 78 and former mayoral committee member for area south, said the roll-out of the Metro Area Network public wi-fi is provisionally planned for the Mitchell’s Plain Municipal Court, Dagbreek Hall, and Mitchell’s Plain MyCiTi bus station, which is subject to budgetary support.

Just before leaving office, former mayor Patricia de Lille signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with network provider Cell C in partnership with Facebook which could pave the way for the expansion of public access wi-fi locations across the city.

The agreement proposes to give the telecommunications company access to municipal street pole infrastructure, council-owned buildings and public spaces to assess what is possible and what could be done using the existing City infrastructure.

“We firmly believe that there is a positive correlation between the availability of internet access and the social and economic upliftment of communities,” she said.

Ms De Lille said internet access and digital literacy were widely recognised as enablers of economic participation and improved educational outcomes.