Finding freely available public WiFi spots in South Africa could become easier thanks to a crowd-sourcing online tool that has tracked almost 400 access points across the country.
FindFreeWiFi.co.za was started as a tech project by its founder Simon Stewart along with other developers just over a year ago. The online offering has been further developed since to include mobile apps for Android and Apple devices that help users submit and find lists of exact locations of freely accessible WiFi points in the country.
This data is then displayed on a digital map of the country on the Finding Free WiFi website and mobile apps.
So far, the site’s developers have contributed to the bulk of points that list free WiFi spots in South Africa, says Stewart. But Stewart says that the offering is gaining pace among South Africans as about 100 of the close to 400 listed points have been added by the public.
According to the Finding Free WiFi website, Johannesburg and Cape Town top the country in terms of free WiFi access points with respectively 154 and 129 spots listed each. Even smaller towns such as Tzaneen and Hazyview have been listed on the site as well.
Talking about his project to ITWeb Africa, Stewart says he thinks South Africans need to be more demanding about establishments such as coffee shops offering free WiFi.
“It’s something that the public needs to push,” says Stewart.
“If they want more WiFi they need to put more pressure on people: like putting pressure on people to supply certain goods or to keep prices down; it’s the same idea,” adds Stewart.
The site and mobile apps are freely available to the public. Even the tool’s Application Programming Interface (API) is available to developers to help add features to the tool or develop third party apps that plug into the offering.
In terms of turning the offering into a potential business, Stewart, though, says that there aren’t any immediate plans.
Over the long term, Stewart and the tool’s developers may consider offering a premium service to people, organisations or businesses that are listed on the site by, for instance, giving them the option to add a logo to their point.
But for now the developers of the service plan to keep helping to track free WiFi access points for its users.
“In the perfect world there is free Wi-Fi anywhere and it is unlimited, and I’m sure at some point we’re going to get to that,” says Stewart.