Cape Town targets broadband for townships


AS CAPE Town’s broadband infrastructure project gathers momentum, residents of the city’s largest township, Khayelitsha, are ready to take full advantage of the benefits of cheaper and more accessible internet.

But many feel more needs to be done to educate the community about the project itself as well as how to utilise internet technologies.

Cape Town has invested R150m in broadband infrastructure and over the next seven to 10 years it is expected that the province-backed project will cost R1.3bn, according to the city.

The authorities say that, in addition to improving the municipality’s high-speed data communications and making internet services widely accessible, the broadband infrastructure will be the key to driving economic growth and development.

During former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s visit to Cape Town last year, the US Trade and Development Agency signed an agreement for a grant of about R2.5m to fund research into the “prospective benefits” of providing wireless internet to residents of Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha.

The city and provincial government have set themselves an ambitious target to give citizens in every town and village in the province access to affordable broadband infrastructure at a minimum network speed of 1,000Mbps (megabits per second) by 2030.

Last year, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said the province aimed to create the largest mesh network in the world within the next two years. This project will connect all households in Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain and Saldanha Bay, including the proposed industrial development zone.

Demetri Qually, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for corporate services, says the Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain areas are a high priority for the city because the existing telecommunications infrastructure there is unreliable and cannot cost-effectively meet the requirements of the city or the provincial government. “To this end, the city is currently undertaking a feasibility study in partnership with the US Trade and Development Agency which will examine the various options and benefits of making wireless internet available in these areas.”

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source: BDlive / Bekezela Phakathi


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