Communications

Telecom infra project OpenWifi solution in Kenya

11th May 2023
Harry Fowle
0

ThinkWiFi and Mawingu have announced the launch of the first outdoor Telecom Infra Project (TIP) OpenWiFi network in Kenya.

This collaboration is funded using an advertising-based model, the first time a TIP OpenWiFi network has been built and commercialised using a sponsorship platform.

“ThinkWiFi’s mission is to empower people by giving them access to the internet. We are a purpose-based business working to close the digital divide,” said Janine Rebelo, Founder and CEO of ThinkWiFi. “Working with Mawingu and TIP OpenWiFi provides social upliftment where everyone can get connected to enterprise-grade Wi-Fi through an easy-to-use advertising platform. It’s a win-win-win where brands win by gaining access to high growth consumer segments, consumers win with free, uncapped, high-speed connectivity, and the community wins by getting unfettered access to the digital economy through free Wi-Fi networks   powered by advertising revenue.”

Managed from ThinkWiFi’s headquarters in South Africa, the Wi-Fi network uses TIP OpenWiFi-certified hardware and software including access points (APs) from Edgecore and CIG. Wavespot provides the cloud controller which also implements the backend analytics and location-based services through its AICloud allowing ThinkWiFi to gain valuable customer experience insights. The Wi-Fi network is built on top of Mawingu’s network infrastructure.

“This network clearly demonstrates why TIP OpenWiFi is the most innovative connectivity solution on the market today–it’s open, with multiple vendors supplying hardware, so it can be scaled to provide superb speeds without vendor lock-in. Plus, funding the network through advertising makes community connectivity widely available, and as OpenWiFi already offers a much lower TCO, it’s a very effective way to build affordable Wi-Fi networks in city centres,” said Jack Raynor, TIP OpenWiFi Program Group Co-chair. “Simply put, OpenWiFi is beneficial to the communities that we serve and that’s why we’ve seen it scale so rapidly around the world.”

“Mawingu’s aim is to help our customers access new opportunities for work, education, entertainment, and social connections, through the power of the Internet. Our company’s mission is driven by this very purpose: Open Opportunities”, says Farouk Ramji, Mawingu CEO. "Through our collaboration with ThinkWiFiand OpenWiFi, we can provide free internet to bring us closer to bridging the digital divide in Kenya."

The ThinkWiFi OpenWiFi network is the first part of a larger rollout that will include additional city centres, transit and tourist hubs and retail malls in Kenya and South Africa with future plans to expand into other African countries and southern European regions. The ThinkWiFi OpenWiFi network deployments are expected to cover a number of public service and healthcare facilities through collaboration and partnership with public organisations.

TIP OpenWiFi is an open-source-based Wi-Fi architecture that enables multi-vendor, interoperable Wi-Fi networks. OpenWiFi-based solutions allow ThinkWiFi to seamlessly mix and match access points and controllers from any TIP OpenWiFi-compliant manufacturer and developers to quickly create new applications given it is open source.

There are more than 300 companies involved with the TIP OpenWiFi initiative from OEMs, ODMs and silicon providers to managed service providers and app developers. Launched in 2021, TIP OpenWiFi has announced commercial deployments in the United States with Boingo Wireless, in India with Spectra, in Pakistan with Multinet, and a trial with the City of Dublin and Virgin Media that complies with the European Commission’s WIFI4EU initiative, the benchmark for public Wi-fi deployments in Europe.

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