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Monday, September 5, 2011

Commercialism and free Wi-Fi

Free public Wi-Fi to be turned off for That Rugby World Cup

Last Thursday, to great public acclaim, a free wireless internet network was turned on in Wellington's CBD (Central Business District).

The network -- called "cbdfree" -- is available in outdoor areas from Westpac Stadium near the Railway Station, to the Embassy Cinema in Courtenay Place, hub of the cool little capital city's nightlife.  Along with the free network along the waterfront that is provided by TradeMe, New Zealand's answer to eBay, it means that Wellington is the first city in Australasia to provide a free comprehensive service.

It is helped, of course, by Wellington's wonderful compactness.  (It is possible to walk from one end to the other of the CBD inside an hour, much of it along the spectacular waterfront.)  Certainly an enviable asset.

But it is now announced that it is going to be turned off inside the Stadium for the duration of the Rugby World Cup.  Media who want to report on the game have to pay for wireless services provided by an outfit called Gen-i.

Gen-i, an Australasian company formed from three previous businesses (remember Computerland?), has won the contract with Rugby World Cup Limited (RWC Ltd.), which will charge media $250 per person to access wireless internet during pool play and $50 each for knock-out matches.  Plus Goods and Service Tax (15%).

Free Wi-Fi will be available as usual outside the Stadium -- and that includes the concourse.

The service has proved a huge hit.  It was used by 2,300 people on its first day, 77% of them connecting with Apple devices, such a iPhones and iPads. 

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