Sydney and Singapore to get free wireless broadband

By Murray Bourne, 04 Dec 2006

New South Wales premier, Morris Iemma, has announced that the Sydney CBD will get free WiFi broadband "within 3 years".

The main aim here is to keep businesses - and tourists - happy.

This caught my eye:

"Wireless broadband will never replace wired broadband... Many people, particularly visitors, will still prefer to access Internet cafes which have high speed wired broadband access and which will allow them to travel without a laptop."

They should always be careful making such predictions. Once wireless becomes faster and cheaper (or free), the market for wired broadband will begin to shrink. If my laptop can go all day on one set of batteries and I don't need to plug in anywhere, why would I bother with a wired connection?

As it is now, my Singapore institution's wireless infrastructure is very good already and I rarely need to plug into the wired system. Our students go to the nearby McDonalds and get free wireless there too. There are many WiFi hotspots around Singapore already.

Singapore's InfoComm Development Authority has announced free WiFi coverage for most of the island by Sep 2007.

See iN2015 for an insight into Singapore's thinking on the educational possibilities of universal broadband. The WMV video on that page shows some of the potential in 10 years' time. When I showed that video to a group of lecturers recently, some of them were uncomfortable with how "mechanical and impersonal" it all looked. What I saw were possibilities for new and enhanced forms of communication.

Footnote: The responses to this Engadget article on Singapore's WiFi rollout are quite amusing.

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