In 2018, the University of Cape Town segment of the Rural Campuses Connection (RCC) project, part of a national initiative to connect the country’s rural research facilities, was completed, significantly improving connectivity for rural campuses.
“The RCC project was very rewarding in terms of customer satisfaction,” says Bruce Fielies, senior manager of Workplace Services at UTC Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS). “Researchers are used to working on campus and take this connectivity for granted. Then they go to rural research sites and they’re confronted with major challenges around internet speeds and instability of connection.”
This slow connectivity has cost researchers a fortune in both time and money. One group, says Fielies, had to rely on a data top-up service. They only knew their data bundle had been depleted when they ran out of data and lost connectivity – there was no way of monitoring data use. “This made it a nightmare to budget for, and the near-constant disruptions to their network access negatively affected their research.”