According to the City of Cape Town, the interchange in Mitchell’s Plain is the first public transport facility to offer free wi-fi.
Brett Herron, the City’s mayoral committee member for transport, said they have budgeted about R4.7 million for the pilot project, which also includes the back-end infrastructure and systems development.
“The 21st century is all about connectivity and access to information. We are extremely excited about this project, which provides commuters passing through the public transport interchange with up to 100MB of free data per day,” he said.
Lentegeur resident Iptishaam Kramer was excited about the prospect of having free access to the internet, particularly because of the high cost of data.
“I would use the wi-fi for surfing the internet, downloading and social networking. I could also check and reply to emails,” she said.
However, she warned that the interchange was in an area where people were “too scared to take out their phones” because of the high levels of thefts of cellphones and tablets.
“I am not too sure people will be keen to take out their phones in the Town Centre area due to all the robberies and theft. Otherwise, I think it’s a wonderful idea,” she said.
Commuters will be able to access the free wi-fi through the AlwaysOn portal, via their smartphones and other devices.
“Those waiting for public transport can use the time to read their email, do research, or catch up on breaking news. This is the ideal opportunity for students and learners to put to good use the free access to the internet. This public transport interchange serves a dual purpose,” he said.
Mr Herron said the initiative would also allow the City to gather information about the number of commuters using the interchange and the amount of time they spend there every day.
Mr Herron said those wanting to log on to the network would be required to give permission to have their smartphones and devices monitored as they move through the interchange.
“I want to add that commuters do not need to be concerned about their privacy. The monitoring of their smartphones and devices is limited to movements through the interchange only. We will not have access to the private information on their devices,” he said.
Mr Herron said the monitoring would stop once a commuter moved beyond the borders of the interchange and they were no longer connected to the free wi-fi.