Free doesn’t mean access to the Wi-Fi facility: The south African experience

  • Nomawethu Tungela
  • Tiko IyamuEmail author


The South African government strives to increase citizens’ participation in economic, political, social and trade activities through online connectivity, by providing free Wi-Fi for previously disadvantage, peri-urban communities. This was in an attempt to contribute and promote poverty alleviation, growth and economic transformation among communities that are generallly considered low income earners. Thus, the government embarked on a free Wi-Fi project for peri-urban communities, which Nyanga in the Western Cape was a benefactor. Even though the Wi-Fi was free, its accessibility was significantly low. Based on the background, the objective of the study was reached, to examine how accessibility influences usage of free facility such the Wi-Fi in the Nyanga community. The qualitative methods, case study approach and semi-structure interview technique were employed from the interpretivist perspective. From the analysis of the data, five factors, security, proximity, technical know-how, and awareness were found to be of primary influence to accessibility of free Wi-Fi facility in the Nyanga community. Based on the findings, a model was developed, which can be used to educate stakeholders in order to guide and increase access to the government free Wi-Fi. Such educational effort is intended to promote inclusiveness in socioeconomic activities.


Information and communication technology Wi-Fi facility Government technology services Qualitative methods 



  1. Ahmad, A. N., Rahman, R. A., Othman, M., Fatimah, U., & Zainal, U. (2017). Critical success factors affecting the implementation of halal food management systems : Perspective of halal executives , consultants and auditors. Food Control, 74, 70–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aljaaf, A., Al-Jumeily, D., Hussain, A., Alloghani, M., & Mustafina, J. (2017). Gamification in e-governance: Development of an online gamified system to enhance government entities services delivery and promote public’s awareness. ACM International Conference Proceeding Series, 3, 176–181.Google Scholar
  3. Andreea-Diana, S. (2014). The importance of involving pupils from the rural area in using ICT skills and tools – A milestone. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 128, 36–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Araújo, T., Jarrin, D. C., Leanza, Y., Valli, A., & Morin, C. M. (2017). Qualitative studies of insomnia : Current state of knowledge in the field. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 31, 58–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baskerville, R. L., & Wood-Harper, A. T. (2016). A critical perspective on action research as a method for information systems research. In Enacting research methods in information systems (pp. 169–190).Google Scholar
  6. Budree, A., Chacko, S., & Fourie, L. C. (2017). Implementing free Wi-Fi in underprivileged communities: A case study of Project Isizwe. In Cloud Computing, Data Science & Engineering-Confluence, 2017 7th International Conference on (pp. 687–692). IEEE, Noida, India, 12–13 January.Google Scholar
  7. Chiaraviglio, L., Blefari-Melazzi, N., Liu, W., Gutierrez, J.A., Van De Beek, J., Birke, R., Chen, L., Idzikowski, F., Kilper, D., Monti, J.P. & Wu, J. (2016). 5G in rural and low-income areas: Are we ready? In ITU Kaleidoscope: ICTs for a Sustainable World (ITU WT ). (pp.1–8). IEEE, Bangkok, Thailand, 14–16 November.Google Scholar
  8. Chigona, W., Mudavanhu, S.L., Siebritz, A. & Amerika, Z. (2016). Domestication of Free Wi-Fi Amongst People Living in Disadvantaged Communities in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. In Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the South African Institute Of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists.(pp. 9). ACM, Johannesburg, South Africa, 26–28 September.Google Scholar
  9. Ding, G., Wang, J., Wu, Q., Yao, Y. D., Song, F., & Tsiftsis, T. A. (2016). Cellular-base-station-assisted device-to-device communications in TV white space. IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, 34(1), 107–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dörnyei, Z. & Csizér, K. 2011. How to design and analyze surveys in second language acquisition research. In Research methods in second language acquisition: A practical guide. Wiley-Blackwell, Pondicherry, India, 74–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eugenio, C.M.-C. & Member, S. (2016). Low-cost internet mesh networks for public rural schools. In Central American and Panama Convention (CONCAPAN XXXVI) 2016 IEEE 36th (pp. 1–6) IEEE, San Jose, Costa Rica, 9-11November. Google Scholar
  12. Filler, A., Kern, E. & Naumann, S. (2016). Supporting sustainable development in rural areas by encouraging local cooperation and neighbourhood effects using ICT. In Advanes and New Trends in Environmental and Energy Informatics, 371–391.Google Scholar
  13. Fukuyama, F. (2013). What is governance? Governance, 26(3), 347–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Galletta, A. (2013). Mastering the semi-structured interview and beyond: From research design to analysis and publication (p. 284). New York: NYU Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hadzic, S., Phokeer, A. & Johnson, D. (2016). Townshipnet: A localized hybrid TVWS-WiFi and cloud services network. In IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS) (pp. 86–91) IEEE, Kollam, India, 20–22 October.Google Scholar
  16. Hussain, I., Dutta, S. K., Ahmed, N., & Hussain, I. (2015). A WiFi-based reliable network architecture for rural regions. ADBU Journal of Engineering Technology, 3(1), 1–6.Google Scholar
  17. Hvalic-Touzery, S., Hopia, H., Sihvonen, S., Diwan, S., Sen, S., & Skela-savic, B. (2017). Perspectives on enhancing international practical training of students in health and social care study programs — A qualitative descriptive case study. Nurse Education Today, 48, 40–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Johnson, D., Zlobinsky, N., Lysko, A., Lamola, M., Hadzie, S., Maliwatu, R. & Densmore, M. (2016). Head to head battle of TV white space and WiFi for connecting developing regions. In International Conference on e-Infrastructure and e-Services for Developing Countries, 186–195.Google Scholar
  19. Khan, A. R., Khan, A. Z., Ahmad, I., Ullah, S., Ullah, N., & Khan, S. U. (2016). A close assessment and analysis of public wifi. International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security (IJCSIS), 14(9), 165–174.zbMATHGoogle Scholar
  20. Kilenthong, W. T., & Odton, P. (2014). Access to ICT in rural and urban Thailand. Telecommunications Policy, 38(11), 1146–1159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kumar, R., Sachan, A., & Mukherjee, A. (2017). Computers in human behavior qualitative approach to determine user experience of e-government services. Computers in Human Behavior, 71, 299–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Leong, C., Pan, S. L., Newell, S., & Cui, L. (2016). The emergence of self-organizing E-commerce ecosystems in remote villages of China: A tale of digital empowerment for rural development. Mis Quartely, 40(2), 475–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mahapatra, R., & Sahoo, S. (2017). A collaborative approach to creating ICT- based sustainable development. In the Proceeding of Americas Conference Information Systems (AMCIS 2017), Boston, USA. August 10-12.Google Scholar
  24. Nandi, S., Thota, S., Nag, A., Divyasukhananda, S., Goswami, P., Aravindakshan, A., Rodriguez, R., & Mukherjee, B. (2016). Computing for rural empowerment: Enabled by last-mile telecommunications. IEEE Communications Magazine, 54(6), 102–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nurrohman & Isnaeni, A. (2015). Towards a decision-making structure for selecting a research design in empirical software engineering. Empir Software Eng, 20, 1427–1455Google Scholar
  26. Nurrohmah, I., Dewi, M. A. A., & Sahadi, N. (2017). Measuring the e-government maturity in Indonesia using the ranking of e-government of Indonesia ( PeGI ). American Scientific Research Journal for Engineering, Technology and Sciences (ASRJETS), 32(1), 49–63.Google Scholar
  27. Rahim, S., Sahar, G., Jabeen, G., Ali, I. & Shah, S.M.A. (2016). School level ICT policy plan for rural areas of developing countries : Case study is Gilgit Baltistan Pakistan. In Innovate computing Technology (INTECH), 2016 Sixth International Conference on (pp 381–387) IEEE, Dublin, Ireland,24–26 August.Google Scholar
  28. Rebmann, K. R., Te, E. E., & Donald, M. (2017). TV white spaces in public libraries : A primer. Information Technology and Libraries(Online), 36(1), 36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Reid, R. S., Nkedianye, D., Said, M. Y., Kaelo, D., Neselle, M., Makui, O., Onetu, L., Kiruswa, S., Kamuaro, N. O., Kristjanson, P., & Ogutu, J. (2016). Evolution of models to support community and policy action with science: Balancing pastoral livelihoods and wildlife conservation in savannas of East Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(17), 4579–4584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Saldana, J., Arcia-moret, A., Sathiaseelan, A., Braem, B., Pietrosemoli, E., Zennaro, M., Simó-reigadas, J., Komnios, I., & Rey-moreno, C. (2017). Alternative networks : Toward a global access to the internet for all. IEEE Communications Magazine, 55(9), 187–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Salemink, K., Strijker, D., & Bosworth, G. (2015). Rural development in the digital age: A systematic literature review on unequal ICT availability, adoption, and use in rural areas. Jounal of Rural Studies, 54, 360–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tian, L. (2015). Land use dynamics driven by rural industrialization and land finance in the peri-urban areas of China: ‘The examples of Jiangyin and Shunde’. Land Use Policy, 45, 117–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Vasisht, D., Kumar, S. and Katabi, D., (2016), March. Decimeter-level localization with a single wifi access point. In 13th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 16), 165–178.Google Scholar
  34. Vento, C., Kitchen, D., Collinson, E., Bilinski, K., & Fuerst, M. (2017). Economic cost-benefit analysis of smart LED street lights: Providing free public WiFi to the Linden Neighborhood. Report, Ohio State University, USA. Accessed June 2018.
  35. West, D. M. (2015). Digital divide: Improving internet access in the developing world through affordable services and diverse content (p. 30). Washington, DC: Centre for Technology Innovation at Brookings.Google Scholar
  36. Wohlin, C., & Aurum, A. (2015). Towards a decision- making structure for selecting a research design in empirical software engineering. Empirical Software Engineering, 20(6), 1427–1455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Yigitcanlar, T., & Han, J. H. (2010). Ubiquitous eco cities: Telecommunication infrastructure, technology convergence and urban management. International Journal of Advanced Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (IJAPUC), 2(1), 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ylipulli, J., Suopajärvi, T., Ojala, T., Kostakos, V., & Kukka, H. (2014). Municipal WiFi and interactive displays: Appropriation of new technologies in public urban spaces. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 89, 145–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zhang, L., Zhao, L., Wang, Z., & Liu, J. (2017). WiFi networks in metropolises : From access point and user perspectives. IEEE Communications Magazine, 55(5), 42–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Information TechnologyCape Peninsula University of TechnologyCape TownSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations