Regionals woo road warriors

Small town Australia may feel perennially hard done by by big city folk, but they certainly seem to know a thing or two about capturing the hearts and wallets of the passing wireless-enabled road warrior set - give them a hot spot.

Not content with letting hapless tourists roam country streets looking for a 802.11 hook-up, Badja Interconnect (self-described as an "ICT consultancy with no association with vendors, ISPs or carriers") has launched a cunningly simple initiative to map and rate the level and position of 802.11 access points in country towns.

Part of a greater initiative known as the Rural Broadband Application Showcase (Rural BASH), the scheme aims to give visitors information on the type and price of wireless access in towns and is lobbying hard to get wireless access plastered onto road signs to alert incoming visitors. Badja's unrelenting director of telecommunications Robert Brand has a clear vision of how the scheme will work.

"Travellers will be able to access three distinct categories: free, sponsored and paid access. Isolated road stops and many small communities may provide free access to avoid the hassle of having to log people onto their network and minimize the cost of the equipment. Sponsored sites will probably issue patrons with a password for the period that they are in their establishment," Brand said.

The access map, along with other sustainable commercial regional broadband initiatives will be showcased at a Rural BASH conference to be held in Coffs Harbour, on the NSW north coast, on June 29.

Outgoing communications Minister Daryl Williams will venture into the lion's den to cut the ribbon.

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