Project Isizwe, which provides the Tshwane Free WiFi service, boasted on Tuesday that it had saved the City of Tshwane more than R1 billion in providing free WiFi to its citizens.
Launched in 2013, Tshwane Free WiFi, currently has over 1050 free WiFi live sites and million unique users connected at speeds averaging 15mbps. The people of the City are able to enjoy 500MB per device per day and unlimited access to educational, employment-focused, entrepreneurship and entertainment content.
“It’s not every day that you get to say you’ve saved a billion rand,” Project Isizwe said in a statement.
“We all know that the big cell phone carriers are making a killing with their data services – but how much money are they actually making, and what kind of effect does access to Free WiFi have for a community of users?”
Project Isizwe, a non-profit organization which aims to bring free WiFi to low-income areas across South Africa, was founded by Alan Knott-Craig Junior.
“We crunched the numbers and the results were astounding,” said the company.
Here are the numbers:
- 5,157 terabytes: The amount of data that Tshwane Free WiFi has carried since inception in 2013;
- R320 million: The total cost of data for Tshwane Free WiFi; and
- 25c: The average cost per megabyte users would have paid if they had used 3G data instead of Free WiFi.
“The vast majority of Tshwi-Fi users live in low-income communities and use prepaid airtime for their mobile phones. Without Free WiFi, users would be paying 25c/MB on average, which would have resulted in a staggering R1 351 876 608 total data cost,” said Project Isizwe.
It added that instead, the City of Tshwane spent only 6c/MB, saving over R1 billion in data costs while providing users with a free service that allows low-income users to improve their lives through access to the entrepreneurial and educational opportunities that the internet provides.
“This project is part of the City’s vision to be one of the most connected cities on the African continent, and showcases its commitment to provide sustainable and equally-distributed access to the internet to benefit all.”
However, this project has recently courted controversy.
Last December, News24 reported that the Auditor General red-flagged the R180 million spent by the City of Tshwane on a free Wi-Fi project as unlawful and irregular expenditure. However, last month the City of Tshwane approved an amendment to the contract between it and Project Isizwe to maintain the quality and reach of the Wi-Fi project.
However, last month the City of Tshwane approved an amendment to the contract between it and Project Isizwe to maintain the quality and reach of the Wi-Fi project.
The City of Tshwane told MyBroadband that it was putting its free Wi-Fi offering on a lawful and sustainable footing.
The amended agreement will run until December, which lets the City put the operation and maintenance of the network out to tender or find other means of maintaining the service without relying on a sole supplier.
“Our aim is, therefore, to seek commercial investments and partnerships to perfect the free Wi-Fi mode,” Cilliers Brink, a member of the mayoral committee for corporate and shared services, told MyBroadband.