The Newcastle municipality in northern KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, are investigating the possibility of making the town and surrounding areas into a free Wi-Fi zone.
According to a report by the Newcastle Advertiser and Looklocal, investigations have already begun into how the municipality can make universal access a reality.
“We have been engaging with various service providers to present proposals of what a project like this would entail,” Ferdie Alberts, director of economic development for the municipality told the Newcastle Advertiser’s online counterpart, Looklocal.
Furthermore, Alberts said turning Newcastle into a free Wi-Fi Zone has, for a long time, been a dream of the municipality’s and the dream could soon enter reality.
“One of the municipality’s many dreams is to make the internet available as widely as possible. We are going to be looking into the possibility of providing this service free to the community,” said Alberts.
Regarding cost, Alberts said: “Obviously we are going to have to consider the cost and what this will entail.”
Vodacom will reportedly conduct a presentation in which they will discuss the feasibility of the project at the council chambers. The presentation is expected to be taking place later this month.
Furthermore the municipality will assess infrastructure and cost implications and based on the findings, will make a decision whether to implement the project by itself or to involve the provincial government and the private sector.
Alberts believes Wi-Fi is a better option due to security reasons, because “there are no cables to steal”.
“While ADSL has its place, rolling it out on a large scale would be too expensive compared to Wi-Fi, which is cheaper,” said Alberts.
Alberts said Afzul Rehman, mayor of Newcastle, has endorsed the idea, and is supportive of it because he is a self-confessed “techno junkie”.
In conclusion, Alberts said while the project is intended to cover the entire town with free Wi-Fi access, it may come with limitations.