Wellington Council wi-fi free - but with conditions

Restrictions on data use may be imposed

The free wi-fi service planned by the Wellington City Council (WCC) for the central city may have data volume caps, be censored and possibly be restricted to a limited number of destination websites.

An explanatory note appended to the council’s recent request for proposal (RFP) in response to questions from potential bidders confirms that it is willing to entertain such restrictions. Among the declared purposes of the restrictions is deterrence of copyright infringement and “commercial” use.

“Yes the service can be limited to specific websites if the purpose of that is to assist in managing the network,” says the Council’s reply. “However we would want access to be reasonably wide.

“For example, we would accept limitation as a means to stop access to offensive material, as a way to prevent copyright-infringing activity, as a means to prevent slowing the network for other users by preventing access to high bandwidth sites [or] as a way to prevent the network being used for commercial business activity.”

In reply to a separate question, the council says “we would accept proposals to limit time, volume or rate if it is in the interests of managing the network and providing a better overall experience for more users.”

The WCC says it is open to a variety of funding models sharing the cost between itself and the private-sector provider.

“Our preference is that the set-up and operation of the wi-fi service be funded from commercial revenue, but we are prepared to consider a mixed funding model (i.e. a private/public partnership with WCC providing part funding) if none of the proposers is able to propose a fully commercially funded model.”

A commercial model may be achieved with funding from advertising, its reply says, or a range of other models “through to the use of innovative applications, which will create an image of Wellington as a progressive and technologically advanced city.”

Director of organisational service for the council, Julian Moore, says further detail of the “innovative applications” hasn’t been fleshed out. “We’ve deliberately left it vague because we want ideas from the prospective suppliers.” Charging for use of applications in cloud mode or for application download are two possibilities, he confirms.

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