By John Harvey
NELSON Mandela Bay is catching up with the rest of the country in terms of its broadband and Wi-Fi capabilities, as speedy internet connections become increasingly essential to the lives of residents and visitors alike.
The latest statistics from The Net Index website, which uses data from millions of recent test results from Speedtest.net, show that South Africa had an average download speed of 3.18Mbps. However, this is significantly lower than the global average of 11.66Mbps. Mbps stands for megabits per second and is the transmission speed of a data transfer.
However, Parow in the Western Cape shows speeds which are very close to the global average, and experts feel it is only a matter of time before the rest of the country follows suit.
According to Wanti du Preez, owner of Port Elizabeth internet service provider Igen, the best coverage in Nelson Mandela Bay is in the following areas:
* Newton Park
The effectiveness of the coverage is determined largely by the number of trees in a suburb, which is why suburbs like Walmer and Mill Park have weaker coverage.
Bradley Millar, a home consumer tech support expert from Port Elizabeth’s Future Tech, said around every corner these days is a restaurant, hotel or other institution partnering with Wi-Fi hotspot providers to offer their customers an added incentive.
“If you already have an internet connection at home then most internet service providers offer an option to connect to these hotspots with your account details for free, or at a very affordable rate,” Millar said. “Simply inquire at your nearest public ‘hotspot’ and an access code or instructions on how to connect will be handed to you.”
Millar said more people in the city were beginning to realise the “world of Wi-Fi” was not so daunting.
“All that is needed is an ADSL-enabled telephone line, a Wi-Fi-enabled router and your router’s manual. Follow the Wi-Fi setup instructions and you will be connected on each of your mobile devices in no time.
“There are various ways to protect your Wi-Fi from unwanted intruders.”
* Applying a security layer to your home network. A simple password with numbers, letters and symbols will do the trick.
* A far more secure method is to let your router allow access to certain devices only – this is achieved by registering your device’s identity (MAC address) on the router. Every wireless device has its own MAC address, so this method is more foolproof than a simple password.
Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism (NMBT) chief executive Mandlakazi Skefile said the proliferation of Wi-Fi capabilities at the city’s tourist attractions was “a must” in the current climate.
“This is especially true at the new convention centre and our conference facilities. It is essential that delegates have access to speedy services,” Skefile said.
“Many of our hotels are now offering this service. The airport also offers Wi-Fi to passengers waiting for flights.”
According to Anthony Groom, operations manager of the Port Elizabeth airport, all airports in the country offer passengers Wi-Fi service Always On.
“This is a pay service we offer passengers, who then subscribe to Always On. This allows them to access Wi-Fi anywhere in the airport,” Groom said.
This is a shortened version of an article that appeared in the print edition of the Weekend Post on Saturday, October 27, 2012.