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Melbourne set for free Wi-Fi expansion

Following the success of offering free Wi-Fi at Flinders Station, the Victorian government has announced expressions of interests to deliver free public Wi-Fi in central Melbourne.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

The Victorian government is looking launch a free public Wi-Fi pilot program in central Melbourne, and is calling for expressions of interest (EOI) to help deliver the service.

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said the pilot initiative will service central Melbourne, in and around publicly owned infrastructure, including public transport hubs and tourist attractions for the next three to five years.

A partnership between the state government, City of Melbourne, and the private sector would be responsible for the deployment of the network, the Victorian premier said.

"We are encouraging innovative expressions of interest that will ensure a reliable, sustainable free service that is also filtered for prohibited and undesirable content," he said.

"All responses will be assessed on their commercial viability, with strong preference given to proposals where there is no ongoing cost to government, beyond any potential initial investment to establish the infrastructure.

"Government investment could include direct grants or in-kind contributions like advertising, sponsorship, and priority access to public infrastructure and facilities."

Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips said the EOI process will provide the Victorian government with a better understanding of the supplier market and available solutions as it develops a business model, leveraging public infrastructure to roll out more public Wi-Fi networks across the state.

"The public Wi-Fi initiative will support small businesses, improve the tourism experience, assist our education sector, and further strengthen Victoria as Australia's leading technology state," he said.

According to Rich-Phillips, the decision follows the success of offering free Wi-Fi at Flinders Street Station.

Expressions of interest are open until Thursday, April 17, 2014, with the government intending to award contracts in mid-2014. The process is the first stage in a larger rollout of public Wi-Fi.

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