Family First senator calls for free wireless access

Government considers proposal

Family First senator, Dennis Hood, has called for blanket free wireless Internet coverage throughout Adelaide.

In a bid to win parliamentary support, Hood has written to a number of government ministers in South Australia seeking support.

The scheme would parallel an initiative between Google and EarthLink to provide free wireless Internet service throughout San Francisco which is expected to begin in early 2008.

Hood's plans would involve providing South Australian government employees free access throughout the CBD.

"With the use of just 20 or 30 medium sized antennas, we could be in a position to provide the entire CBD with free wireless Internet coverage", Hood said.

At a cost of approximately $2 million to set up, Hood said the proposal is an investment rather than a cost to government.

To access the scheme, people living in the CBD or commuters would need a wireless/Wi-Fi enabled laptop, computer adapter, or a compatible handheld device.

Hood applauded the recent 'CitiLan' initiative by Adelaide Lord Mayor Michael Harbison to increase the number of Adelaide's free wireless 'hotspots', but said that a larger state government-based initiative could vastly increase the scope of the project - and cover the entire CBD.

"Free Internet access would be of great benefit in encouraging more students and technology organisations into Adelaide," he said.

"It would also have a social aspect - encouraging more people to move to the CBD as well as assisting those who are unable to afford access".

Hood is well known in parliament for raising issues in parliament relating to open source software and has distributed copies of the Ubuntu Operating System to all members of parliament in South Australia.

A spokesperson for the SA Minister for the Information Economy, Paul Caica, said the proposal would be reviewed once the correspondence had been received.

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