Canberra free public Wi-Fi expands
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Canberra free public Wi-Fi expands

The free public Wi-Fi network in Canberra continues to grow and will soon expand to Gungahlin after being delayed by light rail construction.

ACT government data shows a record 52,648 users logged in during February and the number of access points reached 358.

Belconnen Skate Park is one of the many places in Canberra with free public Wi-Fi.

Belconnen Skate Park is one of the many places in Canberra with free public Wi-Fi.Credit:Jay Cronan

CBRfree provides users with up to 250 megabytes per day over a fast broadband connection.

It's now live around the town centres in Belconnen, Dickson, Kingston, Manuka, Weston Creek, Woden, New Acton, Tuggeranong and most of Civic.

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The service includes more than 60 indoor Wi-Fi hotspots at business and community locations.

The most popular indoor access point in February was King O'Malley's Irish Pub with 2460 users. Tuggeranong Basketball Stadium, which has two access points, had 3512 users in total.

The government has awarded iiNet a $2.94 million contract over six years to establish and run the network.

Innovate Canberra director for investment and enterprise development Glen Hassett said the rise in user numbers reflected expansion of the network.

Mr Hassett said Gungahlin was the last area to be connected and this had been delayed by construction of the light rail project.

"At this stage some of the wireless access points [in Gungahlin] will be live by the end of March," he said.

"When that build is complete it essentially kicks off a five-year contract with iiNet for CBRfree to those areas.

"The government is looking to expand the reach of CBRfree over time."

Mr Hassett said the service was beneficial for visitors and people from low soecio-economic backgrounds.

"It's part of the ACT government's goal around delivering and developing a modern global city," he said.

"It's also about social access. People are going into town centres to use Wi-Fi from lower socio-economic areas.

"It's not just about providing Wi-Fi, it's also a social inclusion issue.

"People who struggle with the cost of mobile tend to be the ones who take up CBRfree, including school kids and travellers from overseas."

Mr Hassett said he was pleased with the performance of the network and said Canberra compared favourably with other major centres.

"Canberra is the only capital city in Australia where the delivery of free Wi-Fi goes outside of the city centre," he said.

"That's part of the ACT government's commitment to deliver a 21st century city that embraces digital technology."

Michael Gorey is a reporter at The Canberra Times

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