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South Africa- Tshwane launches free Wi-Fi voice app

The City of Tshwane is ramping up its free Wi-Fi offering with services intended to boost digital inclusion.

On Tuesday, the city launched its Tshwane Wi-Fi Voice application which allows free calls among users and with the city’s contact centre. The calls, though, can only be made from the city’s free Wi-Fi zones.

“The City of Tshwane will effectively reduce the cost of doing business in and with the city through the Tshwane Wi-Fi Voice app that will leverage the existing Tshwane Free Wi-Fi service to enable free calls between users of the app and to the city customer care line when calling at a Tshwane Free Wi-Fi site,” the City of Tshwane said.

The roll-out of Wi-Fi services forms part of non-profit Project Isizwe’s goal to build universal Wi-Fi in SA.

“Today we have over 630 sites in seven towns in four provinces. Eventually we’d like to be in every town and every province,” Alan Knott-Craig jnr, the brains behind Project Isizwe, told Fin24.

Chat rooms

Another extra service on Tshwane’s free Wi-Fi network is set to be a chat platform.

Knott-Craig was formerly the head of instant messaging app Mxit, but he resigned from his post at Mxit in late 2012.

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Tshwane Wi-Fi Chat has borrowed elements from Mxit. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

“Mxit has some very powerful features that foster community. One of them is chat rooms. We’ve cannabalised the chat room concept to make it easier for city leaders to engage with citizens,” he said of the platform.

While over 50 000 people connect to the Wi-Fi network daily, the City of Tshwane said that the Wi-Fi Chat application would not replace more traditional methods of contacting officials.

“It also serves as a new service delivery mechanism for users to log queries and complaints to the City thus increasing the number of ways to engage the City.”

The free Wi-Fi service is also attracting a predominantly young audience with 80% of users under the age of 35.

Furthermore, Project Isizwe has expanded with an additional 40 sites in July in Tshwane, bringing the total to 673 Wi-Fi sites throughout the metro.

Project Isizwe revealed that despite the relatively low cap of 250MB, only 7% of users reach their daily limit at an average connection speed of 15mbps.

Watch this online video of how free Wi-Fi rollout can impact SA:

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