Members of the house of representatives and senators could soon be connecting their iPads to the parliament's Wi-Fi network after the completion of a trial of the technology by the Department of Parliamentary Services.
(Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)
The trial had been running since December last year to assess functionality, technical feasibility, support and security implications. About 10 Department of Parliamentary Services officers had a range of security levels to test the iPads on different parliamentary computing networking services.
"It was a successful trial. We have provided advice to the presiding officers about that and we believe it would be possible to offer a service in the future," Alan Thompson, secretary for the Department of Parliamentary Services, told a budget estimates hearing in Canberra this afternoon.
Thompson could not say, however, when iPads might be allowed.
"We're very close to being able to provide a service," he said.
A number of senators and members including Malcolm Turnbull, Ed Husic, Ursula Stephens and Prime Minister Julia Gillard already own iPads and are often seen using the devices within the chambers of parliament during Question Time. Should the iPad be approved for use in the building, these iPad owners will be allowed to connect to the Wi-Fi network for internet access rather than relying on their own 3G network coverage.
The trial of the iPad has coincided with the roll-out of the Wi-Fi network into all halls of parliament. Thompson said that this project is set to be completed by the end of June or the beginning of July.
"About a year ago, we completed running wireless through most of the large and semi-large public spaces ... so it has been possible since then to run a laptop without the dreaded blue cables. Over the last nine months we've been able to run similar systems out through the senate wings and house of [representative] wings. And that process of putting wireless through all of the suites is very close to completion," he said.
Due to the need to install wires and access points, the roll-out of the Wi-Fi network is only being carried out during non-sitting periods of parliament in order to minimise disruption for the politicians.
The Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) has been testing iOS devices for certification for use on secured government networks since February; however, DSD told ZDNet Australia recently that this trial was still underway.