extending eduroam into South African townships

Many lower-income students in South Africa experience the digital divide on a daily basis: they have good access to ICTs on campus juxtaposed with little to no Internet access once they go home. This case study examines the deployment of eduroam Wi-Fi hotspots into public municipal libraries located within a low-income community – a township – on the outskirts of a small South African university town. The local South African context and resulting business case for such a deployment is explained. The project faces a number of technical and political challenges, some of which are specific to the selected location and others that may be more universal. These are unpacked in detail before presenting an overview of the selected technical solution: a low-cost, consumer grade wireless bridge linking the University to a strategic high-site close to one of the libraries. Take-up of the resulting service has initially proven significantly lower than expected. Possible reasons for this are discussed, and suggestions for interventions to mitigate these problems are made. The case study provides a model for future deployments and allows other institutions to learn from and avoid mistakes that were made during the examined deployment.

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Global eduroam

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