TooMuchWifi Brings Cheaper, Faster WiFi to South African Townships

Ian Thomson, Founder and CEO of TooMuchWifi.

TooMuchWifi, a South African internet service provider, has received $1 million (around R16 million) in funding in a pre-Series A investment round led by fintech investor BLOC Smart AfricaFund.

It received additional capital from other investors Connectivity Capital, Atreyu Investments and European Family Office.

According to Cape Town-based TooMuchWifi, proceeds from the funding will go towards scaling up operations to increase its presence in existing markets and expand into new communities.

TooMuchWifi strives to bridge the connectivity gap in South Africa by bringing fast, uncapped and affordable fiber-backed internet to underserved and densely populated areas, such as townships.

Founded by Ian Thomson and Jonathan Endersby in 2016, the company says it has built basic internet infrastructure in more than 35 underserved local communities, with more than 120,000 customers.

“To date, TooMuchWifi has saved Capetonians living in townships over R700 million in data costs. We have trained and employed over 245 previously unemployed young people from the township communities we serve,” notes TooMuchWifi CEO, Thomson.

“We believe that one of the steps we can take for a more equitable future is to ensure that all South Africans have fast internet access for school, work and play.”

The Competition Commission (CompCom) data services market survey in December 2019 found that the cost of data in South Africa was significantly higher than in many other countries.

CompCom has recommended telecom operators to reduce data costs and has asked major operators – MTN and Vodacom – to halve their mobile data rates.

Although this has led mobile network operators to heed calls to cut data prices, data prices in South Africa are still considerably higher than their counterparts in emerging markets.

According to TooMuchWifi, on average people in SA townships pay up to R200 per gigabyte of data, depending on the data plans they purchase.

The company says it has worked hard to bring the cost per gigabyte down to less than R4, through the services it provides – that’s up to 20 times the value of mobile network operator data.

The company claims to be able to provide affordable data through its business model.

TooMuchWifi, the owner of its infrastructure, claims to be able to run its backhaul network to data centers – these are transit centers which then connect to other data centers locally or internationally via undersea cables.

“TooMuchWifi has proven to be a real challenger among internet service providers in Africa,” comments Lacina Koné, CEO/MD of Smart Africa Secretariat.

“Their commitment to reducing the cost of data and empowering underserved communities with affordable internet access and training previously unemployed youth is in line with our vision and purpose at Smart Africa. We are happy to contribute to the growth of TooMuchWifi through the BLOC Smart Africa Fund.

The BLOC Smart Africa Fund is a financial technology impact fund, with a fundraising target of €100 million, created and managed by Bamboo Capital Partners, an impact investor specializing in emerging and frontier markets.

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