Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi Research Program

Australian local governments have lagged behind many of their international counterparts in the provision of local public broadband. Mirroring this lack of provision, there has been little policy and academic debate in Australia on local broadband interventions by government or community groups. Instead, discussion of digital connectivity has been concentrated at the national level and recently monopolised by intense debate about the federal government’s rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN). A recent surge of investment by Australian local authorities in public Wi-Fi networks, either on a ‘permanent’ or trial basis, suggests that the landscape of provision may be shifting and highlights the need for independent research to examine and assess the value of this development.

This interdisciplinary research program examines the policy, economic, technological and social dimensions surrounding the introduction of public Wi-Fi networks in Australian cities. It aims to:

  • Identify and describe public Wi-Fi provision in Australia; including past, present and anticipated activity
  • map out relevant local and international policy debates that have underpinned public Wi-Fi investment
  • examine path-breaking developments in public Wi-Fi provision overseas and suggest which forms of provision might be most effectively adopted in Australia
  • assess the public value of a selection of local public Wi-Fi developments through case-study research

The Team

  • Dr Ian McShane a senior research fellow in the Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University.
  • Professor Jason Potts is a professor in the RMIT School of Economics, Finance and Marketing.
  • Dr Mark Gregory is a senior telecommunications and network engineering academic in the RMIT School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
  • Dr Chris Wilson is a research fellow at the Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University.
  • Emeritus Professor Margaret Jackson is the RMIT Professor of Computer Law.
  • Professor Catherine Middleton is the Canada Research Chair in Communication Technologies in the Information Society.
  • Professor Denise Meredyth is Pro Vice Chancellor: Education, Arts and Social Sciences, University of South Australia.
  • Dr Prateek Goorha is a research fellow with the RMIT School of Economics, Finance and Marketing.