It seems things are moving along more quickly than we expected when it comes to free public Wi-Fi for central Melbourne.
We reported last November that the City of Melbourne intended to develop a strategy for Wi-Fi hotspots in the municipality, but it seems things are moving along more quickly than the line item in council's plan for 2013-17 suggested.
This week it was announced that experienced Wi-Fi service providers have until 17 April to express interest in delivering "fast, reliable and free Wi-Fi services in central Melbourne, in and around publicly owned infrastructure, including public transport hubs and tourist attractions for the next three to five years." A contract is expected to be awarded this June.
In the light of Melbourne's reputation as an 'events city', potential providers are being asked how they will cope with the network congestion likely during parades, festivals and so on, with particular reference to providing temporary increases in capacity.
The service will be self-funding (for example, through the provision of location-based, transactional and content services, or by offering higher volume higher speed access for a fee), but a government grant may be available to assist the implementation phase.
"The provision of free Wi-Fi at Flinders Street Station has been a success and we are looking to provide this amenity more broadl," said Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips.