NSW Government cancels free Wi-Fi plans

Bad for business, say NSW Libs

Plans to provide free wireless Internet access (Wi-Fi) across areas of NSW in time for World Youth Day were cancelled by the NSW State Government yesterday.

Eric Roozendaal, the Minister for Commerce, said that despite receiving 15 diverse and innovative submissions to an Expressions of Interest (EOI) process launched in November 2006, none were suitable.

"What's clear from the EOI is that the market believes the delivery of free wireless broadband is not practical for the Government at this current time based on technical and financial grounds," the minister said. "The overseas experience is that large-scale WiFi projects have proved ineffective in meeting the needs of local businesses and the community."

"Most schemes sponsored by overseas governments have collapsed and require further funding to the tune of tens of millions of dollars," he said.

The free Wi-Fi network would also have provided net access to the CBDs of Liverpool, Penrith, Parramatta, Wollongong, Gosford and Newcastle.

NSW opposition leader Barry O'Farrell believes that this will badly affect big business across the state.

"The proposal was launched amid much fanfare with Morris Iemma boasting it would improve productivity and increase business investment — that has been shown to be fraud," O'Farrell said.

"This is bad news for business and sends the wrong signal to companies looking to establish operations in Sydney," he said.

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