Picture: EPA
Picture: EPA

Cell C and Telkom have stepped in to assist university students with free internet to access academic materials.

Telkom will provide students with free data while Cell C will offer students from universities across the country free access to university websites.

Students across universities have been protesting, calling for free tertiary education.

Many institutions had to make alternative plans to continue the academic year, and had made lecture and study material available online while students were unable to access campus, said Telkom.

Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko said the group believed it was essential that students were able to continue their studies despite the current political climate.

Telkom’s Reverse Bill service for internet allows students using a Telkom mobile prepaid or postpaid SIM card to access content on a university website without paying for data consumption. Students accessing academic material via the Telkom internet service provider will also benefit from free data as Telkom already zero rates this traffic. Telkom will waive the data consumption costs until the end of the academic year.

Cell C said it was contacting universities and would implement a reverse bill on their website URLs (uniform resource locator, or web address). Cell C would absorb the cost to allow students to access academic content for free, said CEO Jose dos Santos. This means that even if students are off campus, they will be able to access the university website at no cost.

In addition to university websites, access to information-based sites such as Wikipedia will be free.

"We know students are facing a tough time at the moment, and many need to gain access to course material through their university’s online portal in order to complete their academic year. Zero-rating access is our way of assisting students," said dos Santos.

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