Great news from GoldCoast.com.au for visitors to the Gold Coast region:
ADELAIDE and Brisbane have it, the Sunshine Coast is trialling it, and Perth plans to roll it out this year.
The Gold Coast City Council is now closer to offering free public Wi-Fi at tourism hotspots to catch up to its competitors.
Free Wi-Fi is now available only at the Southport Broadwater Parklands but the council is looking to expand this to key tourism hubs around the city.
That could include places such as Cavill and Broadbeach malls, the Kurrawa or Burleigh beach foreshores, or even local skateparks.
It follows the call by Tourism Australia for Gold Coast hotels and resorts to roll out free Wi-Fi for guests to compete with international tourism destinations.
An expressions of interest campaign, due for completion at the end of March, is seeking interest from operators who could deliver a fast, effective and consistent community Wi-Fi service across the Gold Coast.
Council hopes the service could be delivered at no cost or low cost if advertising is allowed.
Another option being looked at is private funding.
Mayor Tom Tate is backing the push for free community Wi-Fi to bring the Gold Coast up to speed with other tourism destinations.
“Today’s tourists aren’t carrying around travel guides, they rely on smartphones and tablets to help them explore the city,” he said.
“Free public Wi-Fi is very popular in the world’s premier tourism destinations, and it’s something that would be well received on the Gold Coast.”
He said the EOI process should “highlight creative ways to deliver this service with little or no cost to ratepayers”.
The council said no surveys had been done on the demand, but the Surfers Paradise Visitor Information Centre now receives more than 13 requests a day for free Wi-Fi.
“Most tourists are dismayed when they are told there is nothing available, except for the services offered by local coffee shops,” a council report said.
The report said any community Wi-Fi service had to be consistent across multiple sites and tourists accessing it should see the same interface, or splash page, every time they connect.
The council could also use the splash page to offer advertising to offset the cost, or deliver messages such as surf safety information.
Brisbane now offers free Wi-Fi in 22 city parks and the service has had a huge take-up, with 1144 sessions a day recorded in November.
The Sunshine Coast is offering free Wi-Fi at 32 access points for a year-long trial.
London, which has the largest free Wi-Fi zone in Europe, funds its service entirely from advertising.
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