Parramatta to switch on '5G wifi' network

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Parramatta to switch on '5G wifi' network

Soft launch for several months?

The Western Sydney suburb of Parramatta will tomorrow unveil a "5G wifi" network that it says will give residents and visitors a free 30 minute daily dose of "up to 100 Mbps" wireless internet.

Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr John Chedid is scheduled to officially launch the network at the city's town hall from 10am AEST Wednesday.

An invitation, received by iTnews, claims the wifi internet service is "Australia's first 5G static wifi and the first 5G wifi system in the country".

5G wifi is the colloquial name for 802.11ac, a next-generation wifi specification that operates solely in the 5 GHz band.

The technology is seen as an enabler for a better user experience than current 802.11n networks are capable of. 802.11ac is yet to be ratified by the standards body, IEEE. Such decisions are expected next year.

Bringing a '5G wifi' network online in Parramatta's main business and shopping district is the result of about three years of planning.

The new wifi network sits under the umbrella of ParraConnect, a 2010 initiative that counted the "introduction of free wifi hotspot zones around Parramatta" as one of its goals at launch.

A few details have already emerged about the new wifi network, via an e-newsletter called Parra Pulse.

The latest edition (pdf) states that the "free outdoor wifi" will run along Church Street, from Riverside Theatres to Westfield, the City's libraries and parts of Macquarie Street.

The network infrastructure is to be hosted by fixed wireless service provider, W3 Networks.

"Residents and visitors can access free wifi for up to 30 minutes each day, at speeds of up to 100 Mbps," the Parra Pulse states.

"Beyond the time limit, users can sign up to W3 for continuous access."

There were suggestions in a separate edition of the Parra Pulse that the wifi service had been operating in some capacity since earlier this year, however this could not be independently confirmed. (pdf)

Forum posts point to W3 Networks using Ubiquiti gear to underpin its existing network, but it is unclear whether the wifi network running through the centre of Parramatta is based on the same maker's equipment.

Stay tuned to iTnews for more details of ParraConnect's network topology later today.

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