The free public WiFi currently in Timaru and Geraldine is being extended throughout South Canterbury towns. Agreement has been reached between Aoraki Development Business & Tourism (ADBT) and Vetta Technologies to connect the town centres of Pleasant Point and Temuka with discussion about Waimate, Fairlie, Tekapo and Twizel to be undertaken in the New Year. The service is expected to be up and running in the first quarter of 2015.
ADBT CE Wendy Smith says they are making the investment due to the overwhelming support for Timaru’s Gigatown bid, “all of South Canterbury got behind our campaign which demonstrates how connected our region is and that people want to be digitally connected.”
Smith said that the public WiFi was “the first step in implementing a digital strategy for the district was developed during Gigatown by ADBT in conjunction with many partners including councils, schools, businesses and infrastructure providers. We are very aware of how important connectivity is to communities; UFB in Timaru is great, public WiFi in towns is great, however it is critical there are further improvements so that fast and reliable internet is available throughout the region.”
The Gigatown competition ended 26 November and yet green hashtags (the symbol of Timaru’s campaign) are still displayed in windows throughout Timaru and South Canterbury. Smith said that “the hashtag symbolises embracing opportunity, uniting a community and inspiring positive change by the use and application of technology.”
Public WiFi user statistics from Vetta Technologies show that hundreds of visitors and locals use the current free WiFi service daily. CEO Shaun Fisher says he expects the service to be popular in the other towns. “South Canterbury could be the only region we are aware of that has seamless, integrated WiFi service in eight towns. Travellers who stop and connect up in one town will then automatically connect in the next. It is now well known that many tourists plan their stops around where free WiFi is available; the logic of free public WiFi is that more people stopping leads to enjoying our region and increased spending in our towns.”
Public WiFi users will get free access to 100mb of data and can pay a small amount for more data. South Canterbury residents who get their home internet with local ISP Vetta Technologies will have no limit on data when they are out and about in South Canterbury towns. Details on which streets will have public WiFi will be available will be released late January and be available at www.vetta.co.nz/wifi.