Toowoomba to become hotbed of free wi-fi hotspots
TOOWOOMBA will soon join the ranks of major Australian cities offering free wi-fi internet hotspots in central business districts.
Visitors will be able to log onto the free internet on their smartphones, tablets and laptops just by walking down the street.
Council is searching for private investment to set up wireless hotspots throughout the city and in popular parks and gardens.
Two parties have already shown interest in creating and running the network, which would likely be supported by advertising to make it profitable.
1300 Web Pro general manager James Deck said tourism would be the biggest beneficiary of the high-tech plan.
"International visitors, particularly, may not have the ability to connect to the internet on their phones," he said.
"Visitors could access the internet and share their good news on things like Facebook straight away."
Council plans to spend minimal ratepayer funds on the trial scheme, relying on the private sector and advertising revenue to cover costs.
Would you use free wi-fi if it was made available in Toowoomba's central business districts?
This poll ended on 11 October 2013.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
A similar approach by Sunshine Coast Regional Council has been investigated as a template for Toowoomba to follow.
It has implemented a 12-month trial across 32 locations - primarily council-controlled locations such as libraries, galleries and caravan parks.
Cr John Gouldson has asked for a special effort to be made to include local businesses.
"I'd like to make this a test case to encourage local providers to get involved... and if they can't compete, to form alliances so they can," he said.
Mr Deck said Toowoomba firms were more than capable of performing the bricks-and-mortar work, but said finding ad-supported returns could be an issue.
In July last year, council surveyed 19 cafes in the city-centre and found only 21 per cent offered free offered free wi-fi.
By August this year, that figure had risen to 27%.
Council will call for expressions of interest to undertake the project.
Wi-fi in Australia
Council has investigated how other cities around the country have rolled out free wi-fi access. Here are some of the key examples:
- Townsville - free wi-fi hotspot in CBD
- Pittwater - free wi-fi networks in three locations (Mona Vale, Avalon and Newport)
- Newcastle - free wi-fi network in CBD
- Hobart - free wi-fi network in waterfront precinct
- Darwin - free wi-fi network in CBD
- Brisbane - free wi-fi hotspots in 22 parks and open spaces
- Coffs Harbour - free wi-fi network in CBD
- Sunshine Coast - free wi-fi trial in 32 locations including libraries, tourist parks, business precincts etc
- Gold Coast - free wi-fi in parks and libraries
- Parramatta - free wi-fi in CBD
- Woollongong - free wi-fi in CBD and arts precinct