BCM rolls out R18m free internet access project

By Simthandile Ford

Buffalo City Metro is piloting an R18-million free WiFi project that will see many residents and students connecting to the internet at no cost.

Work has started in areas of East London, and work in Duncan Village, Mdantsane and King William’s Town would not be far behind, said BCM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya.

Hotspots where residents will soon have free WiFi include the city centre, Amalinda and Selborne areas. The municipality estimates that the nine-month project will go live in other areas by November.

BCM will start dishing out free internet with a daily cap of 200 megabytes and a connection speed of 4 megabits per second (Mbps). The city intends to later significantly increase the daily cap to 500 megabytes and increase the average speed to 15 Mbps.

Ngwenya said the metro wanted to contribute meaningfully towards improving the livelihoods of residents.

The city also planned to generate income via the WiFi points by selling data to residents who needed more than the allocation.

“We stress that we are still at a pilot stage. We estimate that the enabling process should be complete by the end of this month.

“We will roll out the project in Mdantsane and King William’s Town later.”

These are some of the spots where you can get connected in the metro: East London City Hall, Frere Hospital, at all security cameras in Oxford Street, the Duncan Village Business Centre and Buffalo City College (BCC).

The Daily Dispatch did a quick tour of the spots and found most people were unaware they were standing in the middle of a bonanza of free data. They were excited to receive the news.

Amanda Ngcetu, a third-year student at BCC, said sponsored data would change her life as a student. “Although 200 megabytes may be little, it will assist a lot. One can do a lot with that amount of data….”

Ngwenya said the city had put up a firewall to restrict pornographic and other inappropriate content.

In Duncan Village, where the WiFi hotspot is located at the BCM business centre, people can access the internet from outside the gate. Unemployed Nosiphiwo Komani was thrilled to connect for free, saying it would assist her in her quest to find a job. — simthandilef@dispatch.co.za

-Dispatch Live


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