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Council planning free WIFI for Rotorua CBD

News Release
Thursday 13 September 2012

Council planning free WIFI for Rotorua CBD

ROTORUA 13.09.12: Rotorua District Council (RDC) is planning to offer visitors and residents free WIFI within the CBD as part of a package of measures to revitalise the downtown area and help grow the local economy.

The council has allocated $60,000 for WIFI in the economic projects budget of its Long-term Plan and is currently calling for tenders from companies interested in providing the service in Rotorua.

RDC economic projects manager Nick Dallimore said the provision of a free public WIFI service was integral to the council's Urban Design Framework programme to upgrade the CBD and the city’s recently developed Sustainable Economic Growth Strategy.

"It means visitors whether on holiday, business or in town for a conference, and local residents, would all have free and instant access to the web from their laptops, tablets and smart phones in most public places in the central city. And when they access the web through our WIFI connection we would be able to feed them information and promote Rotorua and its services at the same time, so it's a classic win-win situation.

“Competition for the status of being one of New Zealand’s top tourism destinations is exceptionally strong right now and many other regions have been lifting their game over recent years and investing big dollars in visitor attraction services and facilities. Free WIFI is a service many have already implemented, so we're playing catch-up to some extent.

“However we have the distinct advantage of now being able to provide a bigger and better WIFI service than others, and fast developing technology means this can be achieved at a fraction of the cost we would have been up for just a few years ago – certainly saving hundreds of thousands.

“We also have the opportunity to link the provision of WIFI with our new Walkable City project which will provide connected ‘wayfinding’ panels throughout the city and give people the capability of accessing data points from their smart phones.”

Mr Dallimore said the provision of free WIFI was a leap into embracing 21st century state-of-the-art technology. It would also provide a vehicle for promoting local events, offering information to locals and visitors, and the potential for commercial promotion based on geographical locations around town.

He said the council wanted to ensure the project was cost effective and it had a clear preference for identifying a service provider who could offer a quality WIFI facility without the council incurring extra ongoing costs or the need for additional council resources.

“Downstream opportunities from installing a free WIFI setup in Rotorua are endless. New technology is offering ways of adding value to the experiences visitors and locals can have in our city all the time. Once we are connected with WIFI we will continue to develop and build on those opportunities as they arise so we can keep ahead of the game.

Mr Dallimore said the invitation to technology businesses to tender for providing a free WIFI service had been sent to a number of known service providers and was also currently being advertised.

He said he was hopeful that WIFI could be up and running in Rotorua's CBD as early as the first half of the new year. WIFI service providers interested in submitting a tender were welcome to contact Mr Dallimore at Rotorua District Council for details.


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