The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies plans to provide internet service to more than 5.8 million households.

The ambitious plan to roll out over 33,000 community Wi-Fi hotspots in South Africa has been projected for the next three years.

Speaking at the World Telecommunication Development Conference on Wednesday (8 June), communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said the project will provide internet service to many households.

“With the rapid growth of Wi-Fi in complementing and offloading mobile data traffic from fixed broadband, there is a growing need for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to consider more protection of spectrum use for Wi-Fi services, including possible licensing of Wi-fi spectrum.

“The broadband connectivity programme will be implemented through emerging and Small and Medium Enterprises such as internet service providers, wireless access providers and mobile virtual network operators.

“We intend to create a new technology industry. For this programme, the South African government will invest over $161 million (R2.5 billion) over 36 months.”

The project forms part of a broader broadband connectivity drive by the government through a programme called South Africa (SA) Connect.

“The SA Connect programme will be complemented by a robust programme to modernise our networks in partnership with industry which entails the full deployment of 4G and 5G networks by 2025,” she said.

“To enable this, we will shut down 2G and 3G networks over the same period and this financial year, we will commence with the prohibition of the importation and distribution in South Africa of 2G devices.”

Editor@tech-talk.co.za