When ResourceNet was announced last month, I was a little suprised. I did not expect a free wifi service to be launched without so quietly and to cover such a large area of Perth’s central business district (CBD). I also wondered how MetroMesh a commerical provider of wifi over most of Perth’s CBD would react to the competition. These question where answered at a West Australian Internet Association breakfast seminar with representatives of both ResourceNet and MetroMesh.
Depending on how cynical you are, ResourceNet was setup by the Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia with funding provided by three big mining companies to:
- Get good PR, give something back to people from Western Australia as part of the mining boom and to help revitalise a part of the city that is very quiet outside business hours.
- As the quickest and easiest way to mark the area of the city that includes the headquarters of most major mining companies the Resource Quarter.
- To allow employees of these mining companies and others, access to internet services such as webmail and social networking sites normally blocked by their corporate networks, during lunch and other breaks.
Whatever you think of the reason why it was done, it is a pretty impressive public network, covering a number of city blocks including 70 restaurants and cafes, a few bars and 7 public open spaces with seating. The speed is reasonable 256kps both up and down (though it could be restricted to 128kps if it is heavily used). While access is restricted to casual users, it is not intended as a replacement for your own broadband connection or commercial use of metromesh, users should be able to get a couple of hours a day of regular web use if you live or work in the area.
ResourcesNet was setup in partnership with MetroMesh, using a number of their exisiting wifi nodes and done in 20 days. Which was why nobody heard any rumours.
The technical talk from MetroMesh was interesting, the problems of providng wifi 30 storeys up, the challenges arising from the rapid building cycle currently happening in Perth. How people in South Perth and Victoria Park can get a signal. And success stories from German boat engineers, QANTAS pilots, the Peugeot WRC team and the Ningaloo Reef Caravan Park.
With my mobile broadband I have never needed to use Metromesh, however I had heard have only heard positive things about them from jealous interstate visitors. As for ResourcesNet, that is not my side of town, I would like it cover a little more of the Perth CDB and beyond, like just over the railway line to the Cultural Centre. But I would like to thank the the Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia and the big mining companies for providing ResourcesNet it will be helpful to a number of people.