Expanding Porirua's wi-fi network is vital if the city is going to attract business and creativity, according to mayor Nick Leggett.
A proposal to fill in the dead spots in the city's network and expand it to cover most of the city centre will be discussed at a council meeting today.
''If we're going to encourage start-up businesses and creative people and make this a place where they maybe want to come, to me wi-fi is a basic component of that,'' Leggett said.
According to the council paper, it would take an initial investment of between $75,000 and $140,000 and a monthly cost of up to $2500 to expand the network out to the Porirua railway station, parts of the North City shopping centre, fill in the gaps in the city centre and boost capacity to one gigabit per second of data.
The city has piggy-backed off the council's network and a regional ''Welly Wi-Fi'' network since February last year, but it was limited to 100 megabytes of data per device a day and covers only parts of the city centre.
Leggett said it was a practical investment, and being a connected city was important.
''We want to regenerate our city centre. Some of that is about physical changes, bringing people and jobs, but to get that you've got to have the infrastructure in place - sometimes it's invisible but really important.''
Porirua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Holly Thompson said ''connected cities'' had vibrancy and it was important for both business and tourism.
Porirua had a lot of home-based businesses, and many used city centre cafes and public spaces for work and meetings, she said.
A better wi-fi network would address one of the issues for local businesses that would help them thrive.
''It's always got to be a considered decision because obviously any extension does have costs associated, but focusing on the areas where other work is happening as well, such as increasing the number of businesses in the area.
"It definitely has advantages for the city.''
Councillors will decide today whether or not they want a more detailed plan developed on an expanded wi-fi network.
- The Dominion Post
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