Government gives up on Wi-Fi promise

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Government gives up on Wi-Fi promise

Last week the NSW government axed its plan to provide free Wi-Fi throughout Sydney City.

The government received 15 responses in the expression of interest (EOI) process from companies to provide the free broadband since Premier Morris Iemma announced the plan in November 2006.

Minister for Commerce Eric Roozendaal said on Friday that the government would abandon the initiative because the results of the EOI proved it would not really benefit NSW taxpayers.

He also cited similar Wi-Fi projects in other cities, like San Francisco and Chicago, which turned out unsuccessful.

"Most schemes sponsored by overseas governments have collapsed and require further funding to the tune of tens of millions of dollars,” said the Minister in a statement.

“With technology changing so quickly, I cannot expose NSW taxpayers to that sort of risk.”

The Minister’s sentiments were echoed by wireless provider Unwired, despite the fact they were the number one candidate to provide the service for the government project.

“Fundamentally we’re okay with the decision; the minister is right, these projects have a very problematic history,” said Unwired spokesperson Richard Bean.

Bean also said Unwired and other wireless companies already provide city wide wireless Internet to customers who pay for monthly access, and government intervention in the process will not be needed.

“I don’t think it will ever happen, it don’t think it will prove necessary, the internet world is already going wireless, and people won’t need the government,” said Bean.
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