Google Has Launched Over 100 Free Wi-Fi Stations In The Western Cape
Google South Africa is changing the internet landscape in South Africa, and the opportunities for struggling South Africans are starting to grow. With SA having some of the highest data costs in Africa, Google has taken it upon themselves to create access to internet to communities who otherwise cannot afford it. This has come with the launch of Google Station on Thursday.
Google Station is a program to provide fast, free and open Wi-Fi to communities across the globe. Partnering with Wi-Fi service provider ThinkWifi, Google Station has now launched in the Cape Flats. Google Station is now available in over 100 locations across Langa, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Delft, Elsies River, Philippi and more.
“Google Station brings you free, fast and open Wi-Fi that will enable you to check your email, send messages to family and friends, and also update all your apps and stream a high-definition video without waiting,” Nitin Gajria, Google Africa director told MH. “It helps you stay productive while on the go, allowing you to go online and do what’s relevant or important to you. This is our commitment to giving better access to people in South Africa.
“By gaining access to information via the internet, we hope that people in these communities will get a more equal opportunity to learn and develop and live more empowered lives.”
This all forms part of Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s 2017 pledge to develop the African continent. Last year, Google awarded $6-million to 36 non-profit organisations across Africa through the Google Impact Challenge; 12 of them from South Africa. Building on this, Google is today investing $1 million as part of its 5-year commitment to non-profits and social enterprises, to support the economic empowerment of girls and women in South Africa. Asha Patel, Head of Marketing, South Africa told MH, “One of the key focus areas of our programmes has been the empowerment of women and minority groups, and I’m happy to say that 48% of the people we have trained in South Africa are women.”
And according to ThinkWiFi CEO Janine Rebelo, the roll-out is not only community based, with Google Station also coming to transport hubs and shopping malls. “Through our partnership, Think WiFi and Google will provide unlimited Wi-Fi access to communities in townships, public areas, universities, transportation hubs and shopping malls, laying the foundations for broad-based, inclusive participation in the benefits industry 4.0 brings.”
We got hands on ourselves with the Google Station Wi-Fi hotspot, and despite many others on the network, it retained speeds of up to 27mbs. And according to Google, this is just the start of their Google Station roll out in SA. Google Station has been rolled out to some of the most under-served communities in the country, with high unemployment and crime rates.
Now these communities can learn through the likes of YouTube and use optimized apps such as Google Go, a product that makes it easier to discover the best of the internet, even on low-RAM smartphones or unstable network connections. As of today, the Discover feed is now integrated within Google Go to help users stay in the know with their interests, like the latest content on their favourite football team, people of interest, music and news stories.
Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Through products and platforms like Search, Maps, Gmail, Android, Google Play, Chrome and YouTube, Google plays a meaningful role in the daily lives of billions of people and has become one of the most widely-known companies in the world. Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.