With the ﬁrst billboard going up in town, I’ve been asked about whether my free wiﬁ programme will cost ratepayers.
In a word, no. The wiﬁ programme will be supported by selling the space on the home page.
Upkeep of such a service, and I am looking at several alternatives, is in the low ﬁve ﬁgures, though considering the beneﬁts to Wellington’s GDP is measured in the millions, it’s a sound investment.
Where it could wind up costing Council is in the expansion of such a network. However, there are low-cost ways of doing that. The high ﬁgure is NZ$250,000 to roll it out to different areas, but lower ﬁgures have been proposed.
I would like to roll out free wiﬁ to more than the central city, targeting neighbourhoods that could beneﬁt from the educational uses of the internet. Newtown and Johnsonville seem to be communities that could beneﬁt most greatly.
I’d do this after the central city programme was successful and I think the ﬁgures will support my intentionally conservative estimates. There will be rates’ gains to Wellington City thanks to productivity, improved businesses, and new businesses. If all indicators look good, then the rollout will continue to cost ratepayers the grand sum of zero dollars.
There are other ways, too, to make free wiﬁ pay. Last week, two of my supporters sent me an article on Starbucks’ plans to capitalize on its free wiﬁ service.
In Starbucks’ case, it’s launching a network that has premium content in news, entertainment, wellness, business and careers, and ‘My Neighborhood’.
No money is changing hands: instead, the companies, such as Apple, are paying Starbucks for the opportunity to get new business.
And if Starbucks can do it, why can’t Wellington City? The idea of opening up the home page to advertisers (incidentally, there is already interest, and we haven’t even launched) is the same principle, albeit in a limited way. Expanding it during year one to include premium content from Kiwi creatives can only be a good thing for how we see our city.