By Shine Dighe
For residents and visitors constantly on the go, it doesn’t get better than in the CBD. First came the free tram zone in the city and now get ready for free WiFi as you make your way around town.
Pilots programs by Net Bay Internet, the Victorian State Government with the City of Melbourne, Optus and Telstra – are already under way and offer free WiFi in a few parts of the grid. Anybody can access the network as long as they are close to a hotspot and have no interference from trees, walls, mirrors and other interferences. Besides these, a number of spots including coffee shops (why else do you go to Starbucks), retail stores, libraries already offer free WiFi.
Victoria-based Net Bay Internet is creating a WiFi network that can be accessed for free and the company’s revenue model revolves around advertising. The network currently offers free WiFi at Flinder’s station. Optus hotspots can be found at Federation Square.
The Victorian Government (VicGovFree) is currently available at Queen Victoria Market opposite the food court. This free public WiFi model is starting in outdoor areas and will be delivered by internet service provider iiNet.
Further services are expected to be available on major streets, transport hubs and tourist precincts by mid-2015, with remaining coverage expected to be deployed by December 2015.
Using the latest 802.11ac WiFi technology, the service is fast and reliable, with speeds comparable to the 3G network most users are familiar with. The Victorian free WiFi pilot does not require personal log-in details, and allows users up to 250MB per day – which is around three hours of browsing, or 200 photo uploads to social media.
Telstra is making using of the ageing payphones network and converting them into WiFi hotspots that will temporarily allow all users to access the internet using smartphones and tablets free of charge. In future, Telstra-built hotspots will also be located at Telstra retail outlets and exchange buildings.
Access to WiFi will be free at the 1000 trial sites before the network officially launches early next year.
- It appears people love using WiFi when either shopping or heading to the beach with top usage sites in CBD shopping malls or coastal locations;
- Telstra has 92 hotspots connecting the CBD grid;
- Bourke St Mall, Swanston St, Elizabeth St figure in the top 10 places to connect nationally; and
- Remember to use caution when accessing personal information at wireless hotspots.