Wellington, New Zealand
Last year Wellington began providing free wireless along its waterfront. Anyone with a smartphone or laptop within a 3-400 m radius could log on for free.
The initiative came from a company called TradeMe, which is New Zealand’s version of eBay and has proved a great success. They wanted to give something back to the city which had helped them grow as a company, and which they believe to be the internet capital of New Zealand (they have a Silicon Welly).
TradeMe joined up with the City Council to make this venture possible and hope hundreds will logon daily. Wellington’s Mayor at the time believed the city would be among the world’s first cities to offer residents and visitors free downtown wi-fi access.
Checking emails and getting a tan…
The initiative is also set to benefit tourists to the city and make it easier for visitors to make the most of the city and tell others about it. Positively Wellington Tourism chief executive David Perks claimed that:
"Being able to access free wi-fi on the waterfront will mean our visitors can not only freely access information about where to go and what to do in the city, they can post photos of the picturesque harbour, public art and other attractions to their friends, families and digital networks throughout the world."
In order to ensure the free wireless is not used by commercial operators, users are logged out after two hours but can then login again if they need to.
As if having a Silicon Welly wasn’t enough. Wellington recently considered erecting a huge sign on one of its hills saying ‘WELLYWOOD’ to promote its growing film industry (think Lord of the Rings, Avatar, and now TinTin). Thankfully the structure didn’t get the go ahead, and it spurred a lot of PhotoShop images, one of which is relevant here.
With the growing reliance on internet, providing free wireless hotspots in cities will become more and more standard, just as free wireless in cafes has become expected by customers. Thank you Wellington for kicking things off.