Project Isizwe, the nonprofit behind the roll-out of free Wi-Fi in greater Pretoria, has revealed plans to offer users free on-network phone calls and free streaming movies, including the latest blockbusters.
Chief information and innovation officer James Devine told TechCentral on Thursday that the free voice calling solution should be live by October, if not before.
“The first phase will involve users being able to call each other for free,” Devine said.
The system will also be integrated into the city’s call centres, allowing residents to report broken traffic lights for example, whenever they are in a free Wi-Fi zone. Calls will be routed using voice-over-Internet protocol technology.
Down the line, Project Isizwe hopes to integrate the voice solution into the application that was recently launched to allow free Wi-Fi users to communicate using instant messaging and chat rooms, though they will probably be separate apps at launch, Devine said.
He was speaking to TechCentral on the sidelines of the Wi-Fi Innovation Summit in Fourways, Johannesburg.
For the launch, consumers will only be able to call other Project Isizwe users, though call breakout to other networks could — but won’t necessarily — follow in a later phase of the project, Devine said.
The second project, which Project Isizwe hopes to launch in July, is called Wi-Fi Drive In. The plan is to offer the latest blockbuster movies to residents in selected Wi-Fi zones.
The company has secured a deal with a content distributor that historically has provided titles to drive-ins. Project Isizwe will get the latest movies the moment they are released to video stores.
“Tshwane will identify between one and three locations to be classified as ‘drive-ins’,” Devine explained. “On Saturdays and Sundays, between certain times, all you have to do is arrive and watch videos for free.”
People will be able to watch the content on their phones, laptops or tablets, streamed from the nearby hotspot, he said.
“The video scales according to screen you are watching and the size. We are confident it will be a big hit — we will have all the latest blockbusters [that are]on video.”
The money to secure the content has come from of the Wi-Fi roll-out budget.
News of Project Isizwe’s plans come after Tshwane executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa announced that the city intends providing free Wi-Fi within walking distance of everyone in the greater Pretoria within the next 18 months, potentially reaching 2m people.
A further 1 848 Wi-Fi zones will be deployed by the end of 2016 to do this, Devine said.
Earlier this month, Project Isizwe disclosed that Mergence Investment Managers had provided an undisclosed amount of financing to the nonprofit to accelerate the roll-out of free Wi-Fi in the city.
Mergence provides funding to projects that have a social impact, while also providing a return to its investors.
Mergence is a black-owned specialist fund manager founded in 2004 and managing more than R16bn in assets. Its clients are largely institutional, including parastatals, unions and pension funds. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media