NSW govt tosses up free wireless broadband

Larger cities to get ubiquitous connectivity

NSW Premier Morris Iemma today announced a plan to make NSW the first Australian state to offer free wireless broadband access in major CBD areas within the next three years.

The plan involves the government working with the private sector to introduce the technology.

"As one of the world's great cities to do business, visit or live in, Sydney deserves state-of-the-art broadband coverage accessible by everyone," Iemma said, adding universal access to wireless broadband will boost the state's economy and make NSW more attractive for businesses.

"The business community and government agencies will have increased opportunities to deliver services more efficiently and to more people," he said. "Tourists and business visitors, now accustomed to this type of technology in other global cities such as San Francisco and Paris, will have improved e-mail and Internet access.

Iemma expects this "new direction" in technology infrastructure to provide "enormous" flow-on benefits for local companies and residents.

The NSW government will look to wireless broadband providers to make the proposal a reality in the next three years.

Iemma said an expressions of interest (EOI) would be initiated in early 2007 to establish universal coverage of wireless broadband.

The areas identified as emerging commercial hubs in the next 20 years include the Sydney CBD, North Sydney, Parramatta, Penrith, Liverpool, Newcastle, Wollongong, and Gosford

Interested parties will need to build, own, and maintain the wireless broadband network, which may be given access to government buildings and infrastructure to set up the required transmission equipment.

"There is growing demand globally for more high-speed wireless access points and better coverage in major cities," Iemma said. "Governments in North America and Europe are examining various models to provide wireless infrastructure. NSW is already home to most of Australia's innovative technology companies and this initiative to support high-technology infrastructure will further reinforce that advantage."

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