The Victorian state government has enlisted Internet service provider iiNet to build what could be the biggest free public wireless network in Australia, covering the central business districts of Melbourne, Ballarat and Bendigo.
The $6.7 million project dubbed "VicGovFree" will comprise over 1,000 wireless access points that provide free Wi-Fi coverage to the business hubs of Victoria's major population centres. These access points will be available to all members of the public - whether local residents or tourists - within sufficient proximity of these access points, and will provide each user with a daily data quote of 250 Megabytes.
According to the Victorian government, users not be subject to any time limit, nor will they have to provide personal emails or log in details. No advertising will be provided as part of the service.
"The VicGovFree network will be the largest Wi-Fi deployment in Australia and one of the largest in the world," said iiNet chief business officer Greg Bader. "Public Wi-Fi is now the new benchmark for modern communities, so we applaud the vision of the Victorian State Government."
Bader said the success of free wireless networks in the downtown areas of Victorian cities could lend succour to the adoption of similar measures elsewhere in the country.
"The Melbourne, Ballarat and Bendigo councils have been fantastic to work with, so we look forward to expanding this to other communities," he said. "Public Wi-Fi is now the new benchmark for modern communities, so we applaud the vision of the Victorian State Government...this infrastructure will position Victoria as a world leader in connected cities."
The access point in Melbourne will provide coverage for key public areas including the Queen Victoria Markets and the exterior of Federation Square, as well as major parks including Flagstaff Gardens, Carlton Gardens, Treasury Gardens and Fitzroy Gardens.
Coverage in Melbourne will also be aligned closely with key transportation routes, including the City Loop train stations of Southern Cross, Flinders Street, Melbourne Central, Flagstaff and Parliament, and Melbourne trams running along the City Circle line.
A trial of the program has already been established in each of the cities targeted, including Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, Sturt Street on Queen Victoria Square in Ballarat, and the View Streets Art Precinct in Bendigo.