Aotearoa People's Network

Where's the wifi?

Wifi Map GraphicBack when we started offering free wifi in public libraries in 2008* there were relatively few other free wifi options in New Zealand.

Four years later and oh, how things have changed.

It was only a matter of time before local authorities and all manner of businesses caught up with what libraries have known for a long time - that mobile devices are how an increasing number of people are getting connected, finding information, and interacting online.

So, just to see how the landscape has changed, I looked around at what the free wifi options in New Zealand look like in 2012.

CBD/Municipal wifi

I was aware that the larger cities had "downtown" free wifi areas, but the real surprise is the number of smaller centres that now provide free wifi in their main shopping and business precincts.

Free CBD wifi is also being investigated in Rotorua, Marlborough, Gisborne, Porirua and Balclutha.

Special mention must go to the tiny town of Lawrence, Otago which has offered free wifi and internet access along its main street since 2009, and which even has free Skype phones installed in its visitor centre on which anyone can make international phone calls.

Airports

Everybody always has time to kill at an airport...

Businesses

While cafés, hotels, buses and even the odd taxi provide wifi as an added part of a paid service, there are also a surprising range of businesses that offer free wifi just for being in the vicinity of their premises with no obligation to purchase, such as:

Wifi at Libraries

Our recent research in this area showed that at least 83% of public library services in New Zealand offer wifi at some of their branches and when you think about what libraries are for - acting as a conduit to information and knowledge - it's easy to see why.

Looking at how many other places in our communities offer this as a service it almost seems like free library wifi is the rule rather than the exception it was back in 2008.

It doesn't come without its challenges. It can mean that plugs and seating need to be rearranged but free wifi provision is no longer the way of the future. It's the way of NOW.

*APNK Factoid: First test wifi hotspot, Trevor Inch Memorial Library, Rangiora, May 2008.

Date: 
Wednesday, October 3, 2012

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