Free wifi access to expand

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 06:40 04/10/2012

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Free wi-fi access will continue and grow in Palmerston North and Manawatu even though the city council’s seeding money of $20,000 for the first year has run out.

Inspire Net will make up the difference and will further develop the service, which is accessed by an average 8125 mobile devices every month.

‘‘We think this is good for the city. It would be silly not to have it,’’ said Inspire Net managing director James Watts.

The year-long trial was a joint venture with Vision Manawatu, Destination Manawatu, Palmerston North City Council and the Manawatu and Tararua district councils.

Originally available at central locations, the coverage now stretches to the Waiouru Army Museum, the YMCA camp at Kakatahi, and into the Wanganui District.

Mr Watts said the city council’s contribution was only confirmed for one year to get the service established.
The response had exceeded expectations, but the service was not yet economic.

It had brought in an extra $15,000 through people choosing to upgrade their access, but had cost $49,000 to provide.

‘‘It did not cover costs, but there are things we will be able to do to make it better.’’

The service was valued by many of Inspire Net’s 12,000 customers, who appreciated the ability to stay in touch when they were away from their desks and on the go.

‘‘It is changing the way people do business in Palmerston North,’’ Mr Watts said.

‘‘More mobile devices are being used in cafes, and business people are taking advantage of having internet access during meetings.’’

He said the network was a vital tool for connecting communities.

Vision Manawatu chief executive Elaine Reilly said the initiative had been of real value, and Destination

Manawatu chief executive Lance Bickford said Mr Watts’ expertise would ensure the region continued to be well-connected with the world.

Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor said it showed  people in the city were  early adopters.

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- Manawatu Standard

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