HomeLocal NewsAfrica Unity Square: an Internet hotspot

Africa Unity Square: an Internet hotspot

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THE Africa Unity Square, formerly known as Cecil Square, before Independence, has become a popular spot for Harare residents who flock the garden to access free Internet access.

Report by Winston Antonio

The garden, which is a symbol and remnant of colonialism has become a convergence zone for various Wi-Fi networks accessible to the general public.
At first, it was the Harare Publicity Association who broke the ground by providing the service, but however, the firm has since locked its waves from access by the public.

The growth of Internet world wide and, in particular, the Wi-Fi technology, has enabled places that were traditionally isolated from accessing Internet to do so with ease.

Wi-Fi is a wireless technology that lets digital devices such as PCs, laptops and mobile phones access Internet through a router without any physical association with the wired network (Local Area Network).

The sheer convenience of Wi-Fi has made it an increasingly popular choice for connecting to the World Wide Web (www) and it has become the standard
for wireless connectivity these days.

In as much as Wi-Fi is still limited to few areas in the country, it has proven to be a great innovation to both the old and young generation across the country. In pursuit of free services, people are streaming to various “hotspots” to access the Internet with the Africa Unity Square being at the heart of many.

However, one has to own a gadget like the android smartphones, iPad or laptop which has the Wi-Fi built-in application so as to enjoy the service.

People who spoke to NewsDay Leisure applauded the innovation and gesture by local authorities that are providing the service to the public.

Terrence Mukucha, an Information Technology (IT) student at a local college in the capital said the propagation of Wi-Fi Internet in Africa Unity Square has became a huge blessing to the public.

“Considering that almost everybody is embracing technology, providing such a service to the public by these different organisations must be cherished.

“As a student, I have found it very useful for research purposes when doing my assignments. I need a lot of research time and that becomes very expensive when I have to fork out money on a daily basis at the Internet cafe which charges an average of $2 per hour,” said Mukucha.

Mavis Mpofu of Warren Park who always makes use of the service shared the same sentiments with Mukucha.

“As a regular user of the facility, (Wi-Fi) I have found it to be fast and data transfer rates are convenient compared to wire networks.

“The good thing about it is that you can use it on your mobile phone as long it has the application and on a laptop,” she said.

“In such modern days of technology, Wi-Fi hotspots are the way to go. I use a dongle when I am at home, but it is a bit expensive when doing some downloads so I come here (in the garden) mainly for some downloads which I will then work on back home,” said Clever Songani of Cranborne.

When the Wi-Fi facility hit the country, very few individuals had the expensive devices to access the service and they could stream to various Wi-Fi hotspots from hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, and food joints, among other institutions using the service without the subscriber’s explicit permission.

However, with the influx of technological gadgets in the country, more and more people had access to Wi-Fi compatible devices and this has seen some Wi-Fi hotspots tightening their security by locking on the facility to avoid its abuse.

Research has shown that Wi-Fi operates in more than 220 000 public hotspots and in tens of millions of homes, corporates and university campuses worldwide.

The facility is also increasingly being used by businesses, large and small, to provide hospitality for customers without worrying about finding a wired Internet connection.

Though people appreciate the use of Wi-Fi and wireless internet, an information technology guru with a local firm, Chris Musodza said anyone connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot that is not their own should be aware of the risks associated with insecure, unencrypted hotspots.

“The users should not express ignorance of the security threat since connecting to an insecure hotspot effectively allows anyone with a Wi-Fi radio to intercept any wireless traffic you send or receive and this enriches chances for unscrupulous individuals to steal sensitive personal information,” said Musodza.

“Nevertheless, the advantages of Wi-Fi systems outweigh the dangers associated with it and the facility remains significant as it can be applicable in areas where cables cannot be run, such as outdoor areas and historical buildings,” he added.

Wi-Fi technology is inherently flexible, as it can be used to connect buildings or to extend regular wired networks into public areas such as meeting rooms or classrooms.

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