Council to launch free public Wi-Fi

Northern Grampians Shire Council is set to launch an exciting program today, that will offer free Wi-Fi in Stawell's Central Business District.

Sarah Barham prepares to log on for her free Wi-Fi in Main Street.

Sarah Barham prepares to log on for her free Wi-Fi in Main Street.

Council first mooted the idea of providing free Wi-Fi in Stawell at a meeting in April, with the concept being fully dependent on funding from the state government.

Less than three months down the track, council is in a position to offer the free Wi-Fi in the Central Business District, providing an enormous boost for internet users and businesses.

Business Services and Tourism Officer for the shire, Shelley Chalmers, said the launch of the exciting new initiative will take place today at Shop 108 Main Street, from 12 noon.

Ms Chalmers said the public Wi-Fi service would be accessible to residents via a password, which will change regularly and appear in editions of the Stawell Times News/Ararat Advertiser. The first password to access public Wi-Fi appears on page two of today's edition.

The password will always be required to access the Wi-Fi services.

Ms Chalmers said the launch of this initiative was certainly exciting for Stawell and followed several years of planning.

"Council has, for the past three years, been working on a digital strategy aimed at encouraging participation across all parts of the community in new economy business and communication technologies," Ms Chalmers said.

"It was identified in the Council Plan the need to introduce a new objective for Data and Information Systems. A key initiative as part of the Council Plan is the introduction of publicly accessible Wi-Fi in the Central Business Areas of Stawell, St Arnaud and Halls Gap in this term of council."

Premier Denis Napthine made an announcement earlier this year that the State Government would support the implementation of public Wi-Fi in the Melbourne, Ballarat and Bendigo CBD areas.

Council at the time, proposed to make an approach be made to the State Government to seek assistance for the implementation of the Wi-Fi program in the Northern Grampians Shire.

Such was the commitment by council to see the initiative come to fruition, it allocated an amount of $25,000 in the 2013-2014 budget for the introduction of the publicly accessible Wi-Fi in the Stawell CBA area.

Equipment was installed at the top of the Town Hall clock tower prior to Easter.

Ms Chalmers said initially, public Wi-Fi in Stawell would be made available in cafes and bakeries in the Main Street.

"We decided to roll out the Wi-Fi in our cafes and bakeries only at this stage," Ms Chalmers said.

"However, when all the kinks have been ironed out, we are planning to roll the Wi-Fi out to all participating businesses in the future. These businesses who have public Wi-Fi available, will be recognised by the Free Public Wi-Fi sticker that will be displayed prominently in their front window."

Ms Chalmers said the public Wi-Fi access would have great benefits to residents.

Wi-Fi is a technology that allows an electronic device to exchange data or connect to the internet wirelessly using microwaves in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.

Many devices can use Wi-Fi, including smartphones, personal computers, video game consoles, some digital cameras, iPods, tablet computers and digital audio players. These can connect to a network resource such as the Internet via a wireless network access point. Such an access point (or hotspot) has a range of about 20 metres indoors and a greater range outdoors. Hotspot coverage can comprise an area as small as a single room with walls that block radio waves, or as large as many square kilometres achieved by using multiple overlapping access points.

First access password: Public


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