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June 02, 2007

aussie wifi whine - part 35

A few weeks back I posted from Las Vegas airport a blog post about how cool their free wifi was.

Last night I was waiting for a flight from Canberra, our nations freaking capital where there is no wifi whatsoever, not even telstra's extortionately priced variety.

Meanwhile my hotel last night wanted to charge me 55c a minute for ethernet web connection.

Every hotel I go to has a different policy, different provider, different pricing. It's a complete mess. And while the NSW government's announcement some time back about public wifi in Sydney and other cities coming some time soon initially excited me, I fear it simply has chilled any thought of any one else building a decent wifi service.

Like Australia's woeful broadband service and pricing situation, this is a serious issue for our national economies competitiveness.

Not at all sure what can be done, but it sure irritates me every time I travel around Australia.

June 2, 2007 | Permalink


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Can't have wifi in Canberra the "Terrorists" might use it. :)

I seriously think the lack of real boardband in Australia is creating web/internet ghettos. And also stifling the web industries best efforts to innovate locally.

Posted by: Gary Barber | Jun 2, 2007 2:20:35 PM

I think if Australians want a "clever country" then we need to be forward thinking in adopting smart technology! Wifi the world :-)

Posted by: rosemary | Jun 2, 2007 6:46:07 PM

wifi and broadband in oz sucks. However, we do one thing better than the US mobile data on the 3/3.5G network.
The best deal at the moment are from 3, mobile broadband via card $50 for 1Gb or $20 for 500Mb via the right phone for a month.
Speed is decent 500kps in downtown Kwinana, get connection all the way to Perth on 35minute bus ride.
So if you want to work away from your office or home there is an option.

Posted by: nick cowie | Jun 2, 2007 9:42:19 PM

In Australia, roaming dialup is your friend. The same hotel that charges 55c/min for ethernet will charge $1 for a phone call... still a better option!

The lack of wifi makes me wonder why people get so excited about mobile devices with wifi capabilities. The most likely place they'll work is your own home, which defeats the purpose really.

Posted by: Ben Buchanan | Jun 2, 2007 9:55:02 PM

One of my biggest gripes about staying in a nicer hotel is the ridiculous amount of money they charge for their 'high-speed' (and WIRED) internet connections.

When smaller (& cheaper) hotels can offer free in-room wi-fi, and seemingly every coffee shop worth going to offers free wireless access, shouldn't it be a given that this type of amenity should be standard?

If I was going to be away on business (and perhaps even for personal travel), I'm pretty sure that when looking for a hotel I'd be more inclined to go somewhere that offered free (or at least really cheap) internet access vs. somewhere that charges the usual $16-20 per 24 hours.

Posted by: Jonathan E | Jun 3, 2007 12:35:34 AM


I don't really think dialup is practical when you get several thousand emails a day ;-)

The $20 a month for 500MB might actually be a reasonable solution for me, Nick, I'll have to check that out. Unwired and iburst are kinda solutions too, but you just never know where tey are going to work.

Jonathan, one of the problems is that hotels don't advertise their internet options other than "broadand avalable" which typically means ethernet at $30 or so a day (if ever there was an example of gauging causing lower profits this must be it - at $10 a day it would be a no brainer for anyone with a wifi enabled device - I typically go out and find a cafe I know has reasonably priced wifi, as I did in Brisbane - $5 for 30 mins (in Japan, 500 yen (about the same) will get you a day of access at Narita airport - in Austrai, the equivalent at Sydney airport would be over $300 - seriously - 6000% more))

I think there are a couple of factors here. Complete ignorance of technology by almost evey senior business and government decision maker person in the country, so that whether they are runign a telco, a hotel chain, or whatever, they frankly have mo ideaabout how a whole generation of people use technology, and telco monopolies.

Rosemary - I agree 110% - this is a fundamental infrastructure and national competitiveness issue. It is infuriating, embarassing, and a national disgrace, IMO


Posted by: John Allsopp | Jun 3, 2007 10:08:30 AM

Internode seems to have quite a bit of Adelaide (CBD) covered with free wireless: https://hotspot.internode.on.net/coverage/

I'm always surprised when I travel interstate and have to pay an exorbitant fee for a connection.

Actually, I'm still kind of surprised that little old Adelaide seems to lead the nation in this respect ...

Posted by: Adam Schilling | Jun 3, 2007 10:38:29 AM

I just spent 3 weeks in the States and went to a lot of airports, and they all had free wifi (some for the whole airport and some in sections). One could argue that Las Vegas gets a lot more visitors than Canberra, but I don't think they could use that excuse for Oklahoma City or Birmingham, Alabama...


Posted by: Deb Lander | Jun 3, 2007 1:14:54 PM

@Adam when I visited Adelaide last year I was stunned to find that, like you say, most of the CBD is covered in wifi. I had forgotten this till you mentioned it. Yes I think Adelaide has it all worked out and is leading the nation. Mind you I was also subjected to endless Govt Adverts on the Hotel TV on how Adelaide was the Technological leader of the country. :) I just wonder how good the wifi would be if it got a serious load workout.

Posted by: Gary Barber | Jun 3, 2007 10:55:27 PM

In addition to 3 - the Telstra Next G service offers excellent speed (not sure about the pricing). I have been able to conduct genuine videoconferencing (3Mb/512Kb) from their wireless card. Best part is the coverage, it is replacing the CDMA service, so therefore has the best national footprint. Once more - caveat may be in the pricing.

Unwired is Sydney CBD only, iBurst is also Metro - Syd, Mel, Bne.

Certainly 3 is good for "fast narrowband" - up to about 500K - and the pricing is alwasy consistent.

Posted by: Andy | Jun 4, 2007 4:56:25 PM

As an addendum - the Next G modem is $300 (ouch) and their high speed (1.5/512) plans start at $55 per month (20 hours).

Again, not cheap


Posted by: Andy | Jun 5, 2007 8:31:04 AM

Excellent article! T1 high speed internet is the future of broadband communications at http://www.1-satellite-tv-facts.com/T1-Internet-Service.html

Posted by: Lawrence | Feb 12, 2008 2:25:04 PM