TENET welcomes eduroam rollout in airports


TENET, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) and Wits are working together to expand the eduroam footprint to airports
TENET welcomes eduroam rollout  in airports
2023/04/25

Students and staff of South African universities can now access eduroam — the secure, Internet access service widely used in South Africa’s research and higher education sector — in all public airports managed by the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA). This is thanks to a public-private partnership between the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), ACSA and TENET.

This partnership was initiated by Dr Stanley Mgobansimbi Mpofu, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Wits, as part of the broader initiative by Wits to increase the footprint of eduroam in public spaces in South Africa. “Our goal,” he says, “is to increase Internet access beyond the campus for university staff and students, particularly students who do not have Internet access at home.”

This is part of a broader initiative to to expand the eduroam footprint in SA to bridge the digital divide for students.

ACSA, the largest airports management company in South Africa, was immediately receptive to the idea:

“We are constantly looking for ways to innovate and, in the process, ensure that our airport users and passengers have a pleasant experience when they are at our airports. This partnership is another example of that,” says ACSA Chief Information Officer, Mthoko Mncwabe.

A successful pilot and the greenlight

Once ACSA agreed in principle a pilot was run at O.R Tambo & Cape Town International airports for just under two months over the December holiday period. The pilot was very successful and ACSA gave the green light to roll eduroam out to all their airports.

During the pilot in O.R Tambo and Cape Town International airports, we saw a total of 13 738 unique user identities from around 1 350 different institutions across 52 different countries pass through our airports. This included students from 20 of the South African public universities and three research councils, which together constituted about half of the total authentications.

"The hardest part of a deployment like this is addressing the understandable concerns new partners have about eduroam's business model, governance, privacy and security", says Guy Halse, head of Trust & Identity at TENET. "Once these are out of the way, the technical teams can come together and can usually make eduroam work in a matter of days.”

He says there are always some teething problems in the beginning of such an initiative, but TENET has systems in place to pick up these issues and respond to them.

Generosity of ACSA

“ACSA, in their efforts for this initiative, have recognised the importance of the increased eduroam footprint for university students and staff,” says Halse. “They have not only opened their airports to eduroam, but also provided the underlying connectivity needed to allow eduroam users to access the Internet.”

This act of generosity goes a long way towards the end goals of higher education, particularly for online and blended learning.

Already students and staff have expressed their appreciation via social media:

“Deploying eduroam at the airports will significantly increase its footprint, allowing travelling students and staff access at no additional cost,” says Mpofu. “This will improve the experience of university students and staff with the dual benefit of improving their productivity and reducing the burdens of high data costs whilst at the airports.”

Halse concurs: “Having eduroam in airports is a game-changer for students and academics on the go. It empowers them to access online resources, collaborate with peers, and even participate in classes while traveling.”

“Although we narrowly missed being the first to deploy eduroam in an airport in Africa, which was done by the Ugandan NREN, RENU at Entebbe International Airport, our collaboration with ACSA is by far the most comprehensive,” he adds. “This partnership will showcase South Africa's capability to host and provide world-class infrastructure for research and education, highlighting our commitment to supporting academic pursuits.”

 

eduroam is now available at O.R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg (JNB), Cape Town International Airport (CPT), King Shaka International, Durban (DUR), Bram Fischer International, Bloemfontein (BFN), Chief Dawid Stuurman International, Gqeberha (PLZ), Upington International (UTN), King Phalo Airport, East London (ELS), George Airport (GRJ), and Kimberley Airport (KIM)

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