TSHWI-FI ‘WILL COME RIGHT’
Despite glitches, City vows users will soon get joy
WHILE glitches with the Tshwane free wi-fi continues in certain hot spots, the City was yesterday confident the service would improve under its new contractor.
Last week, the City announced a three-year contract with Ulwembu Business Services (Pty) Ltd.
City spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said the contract came into effect on August 1.
He quashed rumours that the DA-led administration intended to cancel the project.
Mashigo said: “This appointment disproves mischievous rumours doing the rounds that the City has canned its free wi-fi project, after our contract with the previous service provider, Project Isizwe, ended at the end of June.”
The new service provider had already started with the assessment of the current network and assets, he said.
The assessment was to provide an intensive implementation and maintenance plan, he said.
“Teams from the City and the appointed service provider have begun the process of assessing the network operation centre, infrastructure, high sites and hot spots to address some operational challenges and for a smooth transition,” he said.
Mashigo said the City deemed the provision of wi-fi as a basic service, which is why it quickly finalised the appointment of a new service provider within a month after the expiry of the previous contract.
He also announced plans to relaunch the new, free Tshwi-fi next month.
Before the re-launch, the City would first address issues related to setting up a call centre, new portal, daily data cap review per device, a new look on social media platforms and a new logo.
Regarding the erratic services, he said: “During this transition period, any service concerns related to the free wi-fi can be sent to Support-FreeWiFi@tshwane. gov.za.”
In Mamelodi West, Gumani Razwinani was still battling to access the service. He said whenever he tried to connect to the Tshwi-fi service, he received a message that the “system had failed to obtain IP address”.
“I have been trying to connect even at the library down the street. We have been struggling to use the Tshwane free wi-fi for two months. It is tricky to connect and it takes forever. This is affecting us because, as youth, we need information for school assignments and work opportunities.”
Another user Daniel Gumbi said the absence of the service had affected his chances of getting a job. “I rely on it to apply for jobs online. I used to walk to the library almost every day, to log on to the internet and apply for jobs. Nowadays, I am unable to do that because we have a problem with the wi-fi signal.”
He said he could not afford to use the internet because it was costly to him as an unemployed person.
His sentiments were shared by Monde Zuma, who operates an internet café in the township.
Zuma said the last time he saw people crowded at the library hot spot was before the school holidays in June.
To him, the collapse of the service was in a way a blessing in disguise to his small business.
“It’s not working is, in a way, boosting my business,” he said.
Wi-fi glitches have recently been widely reported after Project Isizwe announced the expiry of its contract with the City in June.
At the time, the City assured residents that wi-fi had not been suspended, but apologised for glitches experienced by users.
Mashigo said the new wi-fi was expected to be rendered under a reconfigured model in line with mayor Solly Msimanga’s proposal of securing a new and sustainable funding and infrastructure model for the service.
Msimanga has constantly expressed concern about the viability of free wi-fi as designed under the former ANC administration. A new operating model had to be self-funding by extending commercial rights such as advertising space to the service provider, he said.
Msimanga also criticised the previous contract, saying the auditor-general had found that it was irregularly awarded.
Since 2013, the City spent an estimated R320 million on nonprofit organisation (Project Isizwe). Council approved a budget of R88.5m for the 2017/18 financial year for provision of wi-fi.