"You mean to tell me that we (in Diepsloot) have better and faster Internet than those rich people in Steyn City?" exclaimed Collen Kekana, Co-founder of VCafé in the Johannesburg township of Diepsloot upon VAST Networks (VAST) going live with their fibre-backed Wi-Fi hotspot at his establishment. Not only does Kekana's VCafé record Internet speeds faster than the neighbouring, and many times wealthier, residential estate of Steyn City, it also has speeds of over thirty times the best you can get anywhere in Egypt as revealed by a recent Speedtest country report.
Speedtest results of VCafé's Wi-Fi network using different devices.
“My customers are thrilled to have access to the internet and are using the platform for various purposes from job applications to news updates to staying in touch via social media. What always puts a smile on my face is when they realise that their Internet speeds are actually higher than those available in some of the more affluent suburbs.” said Kekana at the roundtable discussion hosted by VAST at VCafé on Access and Empowerment: Fibre To The Home via Wi-Fi.
VCafé is one of 15 Wi-Fi hotspots in Diepsloot powered by VAST's fibre optic infrastructure in the area. To date, VAST has rolled out fibre-backed Wi-Fi hotspots in the Gauteng townships of Katlehong, Diepsloot and Alexandra in its drive not only to expand their business but also to provide 1,5 million Gauteng township residents an affordable and faster alternative to access the Internet.
Roundtable Discussion hosted by VAST Networks at VCafé on Access and Empowerment: Fibre To The Home via Wi-Fi
“Our partnerships approach continues to be a critical component of expanding our network coverage and delivering quality and speeds that are of the highest standards. We pride ourselves on the fibre-quality internet we are able to provide our Wi-Fi users, especially those in high-density areas,” said Grant Marais, CEO of VAST.
Marais further added that deploying high-speed Wi-Fi hotspots in townships is not a CSI (Corporate Social Investment) project for VAST but part of what they do as a business. Although he explained that they are open to collaboration with government entities even at municipal level.
“We are congisant of the tremendous opportunities for socio-economic empowerment specifically within township communities. Our current footprint includes over 2000 venues and is growing daily in locations in areas such as Diepsloot, Alexandra and Katlehong with plans to roll out hundreds more by mid-2017,” he added. VAST Networks is one of Afrika’s first open access network providers. Currently VAST has no partnerships with government at any level and as Marais explained, they are "proactively rolling out where we see the need".
“We firmly believe that internet access should be a basic human right. The substantial financial benefits of such access are evident with some of the fastest growing and most successful businesses in the world being mobile device manufacturers and founders of social networks. Not only does internet access deliver individual and business value but it also plays a vital role in overall economic growth; stats show that for every 10% of internet penetration, a country’s GDP grows by 1.28%,” Marais concluded.