Wodonga is finally joining cities around the world and offering free city-wide Wi-Fi. At least that’s the aim, at the moment it’s in early stages of the build, with only 1 tower online.
Announced in January, Sydney-based internet service provider myKP will provide “up to 100 megabits per second speeds” and build a mesh of 8 sites, covering two thirds of Wodonga. The More @ BorderMail.
Despite the project expected to be online by early to mid March, the first of those sites has finally arrived. This is located near Safeway, Wodonga, so if your near the carpark with a laptop, you can try it for yourself.
The Wi-fi Connection is Called myKP_Free_Wifi – I’m assuming this will change to a more user-friendly name in the future, something like FreeWodongaWifi would be more appropriate.
The Sign up process
To use the service, you will need to signup. This process is pretty straight forward. They do require a phone number, but you can skip past handing over your address details.
Advertising supported [not yet]
Once the service officially launches, the construction costs and service costs will be paid for by advertising. Currently the advertising isn’t switched on, so we’ll have to wait and see if it’s intrusive, let’s hope not.
I ran multiple speed tests to arrive at an average speed, remember this is early in the build, so there’s likely to be more capacity added as more users come on board. But as it stands today this is what you can get.
One of my newest sites to visit when testing network speeds is http://smoothHD.com. Not only can you get the real-time statistics on data rates, but the video quality scales to the connection. This is a great, visual way to test bandwidth. Video playback looks really good, so even YouTube videos should playback fine.
Another typical use case is to download files, maybe your out on the go and you just have to get that Diggnation episode 🙂 I know this is definitely not what the network is intended for, but lets face it, along with reading email and browsing the web, people will download files.
Right now speeds are pretty good, comparable to what I used to get on an 8Mb ADSL connection at home. Remember this will change over time.
Unfortunately I didn’t have my iPhone on me at the time of testing (about the first time since I got it), so mobile testing will have to wait for another day. Assuming it works, having Wi-fi wherever you go is certainly a massive advantage to any mobile experience. It will be interesting to see how Wi-fi speeds compare to 3G network speeds.
Right now Wodonga’s free Wi-Fi is a great experience, the technology works! What I want to see now is how it scales as user-adoption rises. This is something I’ll be watching over the next 6 months. As mentioned above the other question is how bad the ads are. Hopefully like any half-useful advertising, they’re at least relevant (read: for local businesses).
Wodonga Wi-Fi is off to a positive start, regardless of the late start.