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​Free Wi-Fi for Canberra as iiNet rolls out 700 hotspots

Canberra's busiest centres and commercial districts will get access to free Wi-Fi within the year with news that iiNet is rolling out 700 Wi-Fi access points across the capital.

Image by John O'Neill

iiNet, in partnership with the ACT Government will install the 700 Cisco wireless access points across Canberra over the coming year, covering 12 business districts and the city's commercial centres. The network will be free for anyone to use, and will include 300 outdoor access points in "high traffic areas" connected to iiNet's subterranean fibre and VDSL2 broadband network.

In addition to the outdoor hotspots, iiNet will partner with local businesses to install a further 400 hotspots for use in places like restaurants and pubs. The initial rollout will be centred on the central Civic district, which is set to be completed by October 2014.

By June 2015, the Wi-Fi network is set to be fully operational in Canberra's other commercial centres including Belconnen, Dickson, Woden, Tuggeranong, Bruce, Manuka/Kingston, Gungahlin and Weston Creek, along with the tourist precincts of Parkes, the Lake Burley Griffin foreshore and Commonwealth Park.

The news follows an announcement of a $100 million project from Telstra to install 8,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots across Australia public access Wi-Fi network.

Speaking about the new network, iiNet chief business officer Greg Bader said free Wi-Fi access was "a critical part of the infrastructure of modern cities".

"Increasingly, cities across the world are building public wireless networks, with the most successful providing simple and free access for anyone," he said.

"This partnership combines the ACT Government's enduring vision of a connected Canberra, with iiNet's proven technical expertise, nationwide broadband network and award-winning service reputation".

The Canberra project follows the deployment of a similar network in Adelaide over the past nine months. The network, known as AdelaideFree, connects an average of 200,000 users a month with as many as 5,000 people using the network at the same time during peak periods.