Connectivity remains a pertinent issue locally when it comes to lessening the digital divide, with President Cyril Ramaphosa saying as much in his State of the Nation Address late last week.

With that in mind Cisco has announced that it will be a partner in Facebook’s Express WiFi initiative which aims to bring connectivity to those who live in underserved areas.

Citing the 2019 EIU Internet Inclusivity Index commissioned by Facebook, Cisco points to the estimated 3.8 billion people who don’t have fast and reliable internet access. The firm adds that the study revealed that, in contrast to previous years, progress has stalled on closing the digital divide. Although mobile internet services continue to improve, many low-income countries are seeing slow progress.

To that end, as part of its corporate commitment to global problem-solving and building a better future, Cisco has a goal to positively impact one billion lives by 2025.

The firm hopes that with Express WiFi, local entrepreneurs, equipment manufacturers, mobile network operators and service providers can build, grow and monetise their WiFi businesses in a sustainable and scalable way.

“We are pleased to have Cisco join us in providing more affordable, fast and reliable connectivity,” said Dan Rabinovitsj, VP of Facebook Connectivity, “With Express Wi-Fi, Cisco and Facebook will extend access to the internet in underserved areas where connectivity can offer more opportunities for development and growth.”

Cisco is equally excited about the announcement, especially for the potential that Express WiFi holds.

“Cisco has a history of connecting the unconnected, and as an Express Wi-Fi technology partner, we can accelerate the potential for better, faster internet services without boundaries,” noted Greg Dorai, VP of wireless product management for enterprise networking at Cisco.

“This program offers another path for Cisco to team with its service provider partners to deliver sustainable, high-quality public Wi-Fi via networked solutions that are ready to integrate with Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi,” he concludes.

Over the coming months and years, it should prove interesting to see how Cisco plans to push Express WiFi locally, as many rural parts of the country are still woefully underserved when it comes to connectivity.

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