Kordia is offering free wi-fi at selected cafes in some of Auckland’s most popular tourist areas – Newmarket, Ponsonby, Parnell and Viaduct.
The login will last for 15 minutes, or “all the time it takes to knock back a long black”. Business manager Murray Goodman says that once the 15 minutes are up, customers are able to log back in for another 15-minute session. Kordia has had a metro wi-fi network in Auckland’s CBD for more than two years. It offers a range of pre-pay pricing plans that include $9.95 a day for “all you can eat” wi-fi access. The network averages around 3000 paid subscribers a month, but Goodman says its network recognises 60,000 wi-fi devices that could be connected to its network. Goodman says the cost of building the wi-fi network was “a few hundred thousand dollars” and that the biggest expense is the hardware, installing the infrastructure and paying rental to the owners of buildings on which the antennae is installed. “If you’re going to build on a large scale across a city, then you need city council support,” he says. However, if the council does become involved and offers free wi-fi, it makes the business case challenging. “If the council want to provide free wi-fi then it also destroys the opportunity to charge for wi-fi service. You have to think about how you approach this carefully,” Goodman says. Kordia has a wi-fi network in Taupo and a small network in Hamilton. It is likely to put forward a bid to partner with the Wellington City Council on its proposed wi-fi network.
The move to offering free wi-fi in Auckland's CBD is a branding exercise for the State Owned Enterprise, according to general manager for sales and marketing Drew Gilpin, who writes in the press release: “We want new users to start to see the name ‘Kordia’ pop up on their wi-fi options to recognise our brand, and to know that they’ll be getting a great wireless broadband service from us – and for a limited time that they’ll be getting it for free!”
“We also see this as great opportunity to test and create demand from Aucklanders for a quality metro wi-fi service. We know there are wi-fi services available around town – we installed a great many of them – but we’ve yet to see that ubiquitous wi-fi coverage here that many cities have already put in place.”
In August, Kordia CEO Geoff Hunt said the SOE had shelved plans to provide targeted wi-fi coverage in every city by the end of this year.