Free Wi-Fi has become a factor when it comes to deciding on a restaurant or café – but now the City of Cape Town hopes it will help commuters decide to leave their cars at home and take a MyCiTi bus instead.
Ten buses have been outfitted with free wireless Internet infrastructure by Vast Networks so far, as part of a six-month pilot project that will run until the middle of December.
Vast Networks is shouldering all of the Internet costs, City spokeswoman Zara Nicholson wrote in an email to The Big Issue: “The WiFi is being provided at no cost to the City; the costs are carried by the service provider…”
Wi-Fi systems will be integrated on all 380 MyCiTi buses after any kinks from the initial pilot are worked out, Mayor Patricia de Lille said in a statement to media recently, and will also be accessible at Cape Town’s central Metrorail station.
“The provision of Wi-Fi on the MyCiTi buses…provides an incentive to use public transport instead private cars so that we can reduce the number of cars on our roads,” the mayor explained, reasoning that the technology will allow commuters to be productive while travelling rather than frustrated by traffic.
It’s a “first in South Africa”, she added, and an important step in the goal to become the so-called Digital Capital of Africa.
“We firmly believe that there is a positive correlation between the availability of internet access and the social and economic upliftment of communities,” De Lille said.
“Each passenger will receive 50MB per day to get connected and start working or do research while travelling to and from work or school.”
If users surpass the 50MB limit, they’ll be directed back to a homepage where they can buy vouchers for more Wi-Fi or switch back to using their own data.