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Adelaide is set to be engulfed in free WiFi, with Internode today announcing a $1.5 million contract with the South Australian Government and the City of Adelaide.

The deal is expected to more than double free wireless Internet access throughout the Adelaide CBD, with the infrastructure expected to offer as much as 97% coverage, which the companies describe as one of the largest CBD-wide outdoor WiFi wireless networks in the western world.

Internode’s Citylan network in Adelaide is now 10 years old, and Internode founder Simon Hackett said free wireless network coverage was an essential piece of urban infrastructure for modern cities.

“Adelaide’s expanded wireless coverage will make life even easier for residents, commuters and visitors alike,” he said.

“It will give them fast free Internet access throughout the CBD. Students can use this WiFi to study. Business people can use it for remote access to their office networks. Anyone can use it to stay in touch by email, checking the web for store specials or ordering online – all without affecting their monthly mobile phone data quota. So this is a win for both businesses and for individuals in the City of Adelaide.”

The contract was unveiled this morning at a Hindmarsh Square event by South Australia’s Minister for Science and Information Economy Grace Portolesi, City of Adelaide Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood, Simon Hackett and mobile entrepreneur Brad Moran.

Adelaide-based entrepreneur and former AFL footballer Brad Moran, founder of the NoQ mobile ordering and payment system, described the expanded free wireless coverage as great for business. “Research shows that 97 per cent of all mobile website checkouts are abandoned because of bad user experience,” said Moran. “Offering fast, free Internet access is an important part of improving that experience," he said.

The network upgrade will see Internode deploy more than 200 Cisco outdoor wireless access points at locations throughout the CBD. With the AdelaideFree SSID, the expanded network will provide free wireless coverage for about 97 per cent of the northern CBD from Wakefield and Gouger streets to North Terrace. It will also provide extensive external coverage for the southern half of the CBD.

In a separate announcement, Internode said it would be enhancing its Adelaide Citylan capacity to be compatible with the new City of Adelaide network. This involves installing 82 additional access points and upgrading all Citylan sites to 802.11n capability, boosting access speeds by as much as five times.

The company said its Citylan system has more than six million separate sessions every month and about 150,000 unique accesses each week.

Work has already started on the new network and will be largely completed by early next year, in time for Adelaide’s ‘mad March’ season of festivals, including the Adelaide Fringe and WOMADelaide.

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David Swan

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David Swan is a tech journalist from Melbourne and is iTWire's Associate Editor. Having started off as a games reviewer at the tender age of 14, he now has a degree in Journalism from RMIT (with Honours) and owns basically every gadget under the sun. You can email him at david.swan@itwire.com or follow him at twitter.com/mrdavidswan

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