Wellington is getting free internet wireless for the Rugby World Cup – but in Auckland, hosting the finals, it will cost users. In Wellington, from December, anyone with an internet-capable smart phone, iPad or laptop computer will be able to connect free of charge between Queens Wharf and Te Papa within range of a waterfront server in the NZX building. The initiative is the brainchild of Trade Me and is being paid for by the online auction company, in association with the council. Trade Me head of operations Mike O'Donnell said the move was a New Zealand first. A proposal to the Auckland City Council, quietly announced on their website, calls for a "low-cost model for comprehensive expansion has been developed by Auckland City Council and could be in place in time for Rugby World Cup visitors". Auckland City wants a partnership with a network provider and a retail service provider to extend wireless broadband services in key zones across the city on a "casual pay as you go basis". The proposal would achieve coverage in 732 sites in 62 locations compared to the 150 nodes currently in place. Current zones covered are Viaduct Basin, Westhaven, Aotea Square, Karangahape Road, Ponsonby Road, Parnell Rise, Newmarket, Remuera Road and Albert Park. Services are also delivered in cafes and restaurants within these zones. The plan calls for a $3 per hour cost, up to 60 megabytes, a $6.50 per day for 160 megabytes or a weekly $30 per week for 1.2 gigabytes. A report to the city council's City Development Committee, which approved the proposal in principle, said the tariffs compared favourably with hotels and serviced apartments (average $29 per day) and expensive cellular network services. Significant revenue streams would offset costs over time. "The potential benefits for the city, visitors and businesses are enormous," said Councillor Aaron Bhatnagar, committee chairperson. "They could contribute significantly to economic growth and help establish the region as a major events destination." With the council's current service, all revenue flows to private sector partners. Under the proposed expanded service, council will look to develop a profit sharing arrangement with a retail partner. The committee agreed to provide a detailed business case and funding model to the Auckland Council for approval and to instigate a formal tender process. *Trade Me is owned by Fairfax, publisher of Computerworld
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