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Union Buildings to offer free public Wi-Fi

June 19, 2014 • Mobile and Telecoms, Southern Africa, Top Stories

Union Building Pretoria

Visitors will have access to the free Wi-Fi provided at the Union Building. (Image Source: Travelblog.org)

The City of Tshwane has contracted Project Isizwe to deploy a free public Wi-Fi service at the governmental landmark in the nation’s capital of Pretoria. The project is aimed at connecting and empowering the citizens who visit the Union Buildings,

The initial decision to deploy the network, powered by Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi, came as a result of the desire by the City of Tshwane to deploy a free Wi-Fi service to over 20,000 citizens who attended the presidential inauguration held at the Union Buildings in May 2014. The Wi-Fi network is now free for use by citizens and tourists coming to visit the Union Buildings.

“The City of Tshwane are exceptionally citizen focused and are ahead of many in their plight to ensure that they provide their people with access to technologies such as Wi-Fi. All of which fosters a digital culture amongst its people,” states Zahir Khan, COO at Project Isizwe.

The network infrastructure consists of strategically placed Ruckus ZoneFlex 7782 outdoor access points, centrally managed by a Ruckus ZoneDirector™ 5000 wireless LAN (WLAN) controller, that Project Isizwe, a Ruckus Big Dog channel partner obtained from value-added distributor Westcon. Due to the short time from order to delivery required by the municipality, the Westcon team, working with Ruckus, was able to ensure installation of the network within a record-breaking six days.

On the day of the inauguration, the Smart Wi-Fi network connected the open space where the public congregated to witness the swearing in of the South African president. All citizens attending the event were able to, at no charge, access the network, all of which was enabled by the City of Tshwane.

Of the 20,000 people who attended the inauguration, it was estimated that in excess of 50% of people had a smartphone or Wi-Fi enabled device. While an initial estimated 2% of attendees were expected to link to the network, a final total of 761 (3.8%) connections were made, with 300 connections being established within 30 seconds following the swearing in of the President.

A total of 5,538 sessions was recorded on the day, with the average user experience coming in at 9.3Mbps download speed. Devices connecting to the network showed a split of 39.5% Android, 28.9% Windows, 13.1% Apple, and 7.9% Blackberry, with the balance of 10.6% being other operating systems.

“The predominant reason that the Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi technology was selected over and above other available technologies was the fact that it is widely considered the most capable Wi-Fi technology to manage significant concurrent user volumes,” states Tiens Lange, business unit director at Westcon Communication Solutions. “In addition, Ruckus has local technical and support presence backed up by ourselves at Westcon and our partner Project Isizwe, in the event of an unforeseen network outage.”

Looking ahead, the public network will now remain live for a further three-year period, and will ensure that all visitors to future events at the Union Buildings can enjoy the benefits of free Wi-Fi provided by the City of Tshwane.

Today Project Isizwe provides a fully managed service to the City of Tshwane in the form of “Tshwane Free Wi-Fi.” The service currently allows users to enjoy 250MB of data per device, per day, with the option of unlimited access to curated on-net content that is made up of learning resources, e-health, e-Tshwane services, news and entertainment amongst others.

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