KEETMANSHOOP - The Keetmanshoop municipal council recently approved an agreement with Leo Canopus to provide free internet services to residents of the town.
This memorandum of understanding was justified in that broadband (internet access) is a basic right to information of every citizen in town, and should thus be ideally offered across the community.
Another justification was that increased internet access penetration can drive economic growth and increase commercial activity that will expand the town’s tax base, and ultimately exceed its investments in information communication technology, minutes of the management committee meeting that recommended the agreement indicated.
This trial run for free internet services to community access points can provide for value-added services such as advertising, data collection and public service announcements. It also indicated that during the trial period (August 2020 to January 2021) in the ‘TransNamib’ area in Tseiblaagte, an average of 77 users have served the web daily.
“In light of the above, Leo Canopus has proposed to partner with council for the phased implementation of a Community WIFI project on a Build+ Operate+ Lease+ Transfer (BOLT) model,” municipal spokesperson Dawn Kruger explained to New Era.
She said phase one will be envisaging to include installation in various access points, namely a minimum of 14 points covering Tseiblaagte and Krönlein, and one each at the Old Mutual shopping centre, in Hampie Plichta Street, and the Keetmanshoop municipality’s head office, respectively.
Kruger added that it should be reasonably expected that data and knowledge generated during the course of the existing agreement will be regarded as proprietary to the two partners involved.
When explaining the benefits of the agreement, a representative from Leo Canopus said council could, through the implementation of the agreement, provide internet services, be able to have smarter meter readings, data collection and quicker response times.
The company’s obligation is to set up and maintain the infrastructure, whilst council will cater for the operation’s costs for the duration of the project.
The representative responded when asked if this partnership will result in lower costs for Telecom’s WIFI services provided to council that they are not in direct competition with Telecom, and are concentrating more on the lower income groups in the community.
Mark Vivian (17), a pupil residing in the TransNamib area, said internet services provided during the trial period towards the end of last year assisted him a lot with his studies.
“I cannot wait for the permanent access to internet provided by the Keetmanshoop municipality since it will benefit all of us here,’’ he enthused.
The total cost for rolling out phase one of the project will amount to N$905 226.78, and will be finalised and accessible by 10 June 2021.