Internode, AirNet customers get free wireless access in Adelaide

Internode and AirNet customers based in Adelaide will have free Internet access using their existing broadband or dial-up account at virtually any location in the central business district, thanks to a new city-wide Wi-Fi service.

The Adelaide City Council announced the launch of a new wireless local area network called Citilan on Wednesday. Although privately operated hotspot Wi-Fi services have already been installed in other cities around Australia, Adelaide City Council claims it is the first city not only locally but also in the world to establish a contiguous wireless Internet network covering whole sections of the city centre.

The Wi-Fi service, which is based on 802.11b technology, covers a five square kilometre radius, including city streets such as North Terrace, the city’s main shopping district Rundle Mall, coffee shops, the Adelaide Aquatic Centre and Elder Park.

Hotspots are currently active in around 12 locations, with about 50 expected to be up and running within the next two weeks. All are connected to fibre optic cable, which has gradually been deployed to replace copper lines throughout the city over the past 10 years, Adelaide City Council spokesperson Grant Rowlands said.

The Citilan service was developed by the AAA Telecommunications partnership, which includes ISP Internode and its sister company Agile Communications as well as Internet provider AirNet, the South Australian consortium for the development of wireless applications and technologies m.Net Corporation, the South Australian Department of Business, Manufacturing and Trade and Adelaide City Council.

Internode and AirNet customers wishing to access the service will need a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop or PDA. Access to the network is available via the Citilan Web site: Customers will need to select their ISP from the drop down menu.

AirNet marketing manager Paul Hamon said the service will remain free to all AirNet customers until the end of October. During this time, the ISP will assess customer response to the services and work out both a policy and rates scheme for accessing the service, he said.

Internode customers will also be able to access the wireless network for free during the initial deployment period, with rate plans to be determined sometime later this year.

Other government agencies watch wireless “with interest”

While Adelaide City Council has flagged Wi-Fi as an important technology for its future, Caroline Bergman, spokesperson for the City of Sydney Council said it has no plans to embark on any WLAN installations.

Nevertheless, the council was aware of Adelaide City Council’s wireless plans and would watch the response to and further development of the Citilan service “with interest”, she said.

In contrast, Brisbane City Council launched a free trial of its own Wi-Fi service in the Queen Street Mall in December last year. Although there are no plans to extend the trial into other areas around the city centre, a spokesperson for the council said the offering had proved a success. As a result, the council will continue to offer free wireless Internet access via its portal indefinitely.

The Queensland government has also taken a proactive stance towards Wi-Fi technology and announced that some 20 high-profile locations around Brisbane and the Gold Coast will be equipped with Wi-Fi technology as part of its 12-month “smart state” Wi-Fi trial.

The largely fee-based service, which was launched earlier this month, is being provided by wireless operator Hotspot Global in conjunction with a consortium of local and national businesses, including IntraPower, Sirocco, I-Tel and SnapGear and is supported by Intel.

Locations include several railway stations in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, and major sporting venues including Suncorp Stadium and The Gabba Cricket Ground.

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