HOOK ME UP: Free public wifi internet access for the Tenterfield CBD could be available in 12-18 months.It’s been on the cards for several years but Tenterfield Shire Council’s plans to provide free public wifi internet access in the CBD have received a boost with MP Thomas George announcing an $8000 Community Building Partnership Grant, which the council will match in kind and potentiallytop up with cash.
The $15,000-$20,000 project will begin immediately with a ‘scoping’ program to plan the implementation. Council’sStrategic Planning & EnvironmentalServices directorJames Ruprai said the aim was to provide coverage from the Visitors Information Centre along Rouse St up to the Memorial Baths with a series of hubs.
“The intent is to benefit all members of the community:tourists, businesses and residents,” Mr Ruprai said.
He referred to the initiative as a ‘place-making’ project, providing a reason for people to come into the CBD and stay awhile. The ultimate vision is see locals and tourists alike relaxing in Bruxner Park with their laptops, phones and tablets, enjoying the free internet accessas well as a coffee and something to eat from a local establishment.
Access would also be available from the coffee shops and other businesses along the stretch, which is now dotted with bench seating along the footpaths as well.
No supplier has yet been selected but some research has already been done to arrive at a ballpark figure for the project.
“We’re looking for the best option for the community and for businesses, to achieve the best coverage,” Mr Ruprai said.
He hopes the system will be up and running in the next 12-18 months, depending on a range of factors which may be outside council’s control.
The second prong of the initiative is an education program makingtablets and instructional brochures available at the Tenterfield Library and at the Visitors Information Centre, for community members to learn how to use the internet and take advantage of the free wifi service.
“I’m quite excited for the project,” Mr Ruprai said.
He said the free public wifi could be a good draw card for the CBD, particularly with a heavy vehicle bypass in the offing.
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