Council to fund free wi-fi zones

KATE DAVIDSON
Last updated 13:00 03/03/2014

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Nelson's inner city is set to become a connected hotspot with the Nelson City Council agreeing to fund a free wi-fi zone.

The council agreed to provide $15,000 for Uniquely Nelson's initiative to develop free wi-fi hotspots in the city centre. The zone will be open to all mobile phones, no matter the network.

Uniquely Nelson manager Cathy Madigan said the funding decision was exciting news and Uniquely Nelson would start the project as soon as possible. It had already been working on securing support for the idea since midway through last year.

"We are absolutely rapt council have come to the party on this," she said.

Mayor Rachel Reese said she decided to fund the initiative as it would benefit locals and visitors in the city.

"I assessed that one as being worthy of applying the fund to so we could get the free wi-fi up and running before next year's annual plan," she said. "It's a good message to say that we are really on board for having a vibrant CBD and part of that is having great services like the wi-fi."

The comprehensive wi-fi zone would help market the city and was recognition of how mobile people were today, Ms Madigan said.

Ms Reese said the wi-fi should be good to go "fairly soon", possibly within the next couple of months, and before the next financial year.

A time limit would be put on internet access to stop people abusing the service, but the finer details still had to be worked out with contractors.

The mayor said the wi-fi would also be a "good fit" with the gigatown competition in which the prize is a one-gigabit-per-second internet connection and $200,000 for its set up.

The $15,000 comes from the economic development fund, which is a reserve held for items that arise and need funding during the financial year. The council is also looking at contributing another $7000 over the next financial year to the project.

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- The Nelson Mail

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