MediaTek helps RIOT Network bring stokvel-style WiFi to underserved townships

  • RIOT Network is leveraging MediaTek’s SoC for its CROWDNet devices, which deliver unlimited WiFi services for people in townships.
  • The service provider is specifically making use of MediaTek’s Filogic 830 System-on-Chip.
  • The WiFi offering allows groups of houses to pool their money together and pay for access to connectivity monthly.

With Africa Tech Festival currently underway in Cape Town, a number of companies are showcasing their most innovative solutions designed to tackle local problems. One that piqued our interest in particular is RIOT Network, which unpacked its CROWDNet devices at an event co-ordinated by MediaTek.

These CROWDNet devices are currently being deployed and tested out in a handful of underserved informal communities and townships in South Africa with the aim of providing reliable WiFi connectivity.

What makes this offering particularly intriguing, is the fact that it utilises a stokvel-style payment scheme in order to ensure a group of houses can remain connected.

To power this experience, the MediaTek Filogic 830 high-performance wireless networking system-on-a-chip (SoC) is being utilised.

“The MediaTek Filogic 830 is a versatile, high-performance wireless networking SoC designed for routers, repeaters, access points and mesh networking devices. The SoC enables device makers to build-in powerful applications based on an energy-efficient, Wi-Fi 6-ready platform,” the silicon maker highlights in a release shared with Hypertext.

“Its CROWDNet Nodes powered by MediaTek Filogic 830, enable an innovative model for deploying and operating user-operated network infrastructure. This brings affordable, last-kilometre broadband to communities where it is not commercially viable for operators to deploy towers or fibre,” adds RIOT Network.

“We are excited by the progress RIOT Networks is making in technology and business model and we will continue to support them with our Filogic Wi-Fi platforms to bring the social and economic benefits of high-speed broadband closer to more African communities,” noted Rami Osman, director for Business Development for MediaTek MEA.

“With 94% 4G/LTE coverage, we see potential to bring CROWDNet devices to township and rural homes throughout South Africa over the next two years. Our collaboration with MediaTek is integral to our strategy. The association with MediaTek aligns with our commitment to affordability and quality. It also fosters innovation and technical proficiency,” enthused Jarryd Bekker, CEO at RIOT Network.

With cost being cited as a significant barrier to entry when it comes to connectivity in South Africa, and the digital divide showing no signs of being bridged anytime soon, initiatives like this from RIOT is indeed promising.

The project remains in the testing and development phase for now, but it will be interesting to see how it evolves over the coming weeks and months with the help of MediaTek.


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