Public Wi-Fi Space, sociality and the social good

Main Article Content

Alex Lambert
Scott McQuire
Nikos Papastergiardis

Keywords

Public Wi-Fi

Abstract

Public Wi-Fi services are rolling out across Australia, with city councils and telcos building large-scale networks in urban areas. Questions as to the value of public Wi-Fi have never been more significant in the Australian context. In this article we explore how free Wi-Fi services offered by cultural institutions and municipalities influence public spaces, and ask how such services can engender practices which promote the social good. Drawing on ethnographic research into six Wi-Fi equipped spaces in Victoria, we find a variety of issues which influence whether a service will be popular and hence have a significant influence on public space. Services which are popular enable a range of uses, and this can add to the appeal and atmosphere of a space. However, Wi-Fi has yet to truly facilitate the kind of social interactions and rich civic placemaking we associate with the social good.

Abstract 41 | PDF Downloads 0

References

Bar, F; Park, N. 2005. 'Municipal Wi-Fi Networks: The Goals Practices and Policy Implications of the U.S. Case'. Communications and Strategies 61(1): 107-124.
Barber, D. 2014. ‘New Greater Dandenong Council Tech-Savvy $65m Civic Centre to Open on March 17’. Dandenong Leader. Accessed 10 March 2014. Available from http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader
Bingemann, M. 2014a. ‘iiNet plans 30,00 Wi-Fi Hotspots in Capital Cities’. The Australian. Accessed 10 January 2014. Available from: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/technology
Bingemann, M. 2014b. ‘Telstra’s WiFi Network Q&A’. The Australian. Accessed 21 May 2014. Available from: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news
Binnie, J; Holloway, J; Millington, S; Young, C. 2006. Introduction: Grounding Cosmopolitan Urbanism. In J. Binnie, J. Holloway, S. Millington & C. Young (Eds.), Cosmopolitan Urbanism (pp. 1-34). New York: Routledge.
Brisbane City Council. 2012. ‘Brisbane Economic Development Plan: 2012-2013’. Accessed 2 February 2013. Available from: http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/about-council/governance-strategy/economic-development/economic-development-program
Carr, S; Francis, M; Rivlin, L. G; Stone, A. 1992. Public Space. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
City of Perth. 2012. ‘Development of the City of Perth Wi-Fi Strategy’, in General Purpose Committee Minutes, 7 February 2012. Accessed 28 August 2014. Available from: http://www.perth.wa.gov.au/council/council-and-committee-meetings/committee-minutes-archive
Colley, A. 2014. ‘Telstra Boss Denies $100m Wi-Fi Network to Reduce Load On 4G Services’. The Sydney Morning Herald. Accessed 21 May 2014. Available from: http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/business-it/
Cowan, P. 2014 ‘Melbourne CBD to Get Free Wi-Fi’. itNews. Accessed 13 March 2014. Available from: http://www.itnews.com.au/News
Coyne, A. 2014. ‘iiNet to Build $4 Million Free Wi-Fi Network in Canberra’. itNews. Accessed 29 May 2014. Available from http://www.itnews.com.au/News
Crawford, S. 2013. Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age: Yale University Press, New Haven.
Darebin City Council. 2012. ‘Darebin Council Meeting. Minute 252: Wi-Fi Darebin’ (21 May 2012). Accessed 20 January 2013. Available from: http://www.darebin.vic.gov.au/Page/Page.aspx’Page_Id=9204
Digital Canberra Action Plan. 2014. ‘Report produced by Chief Minister and Treasury Directorate’. ACT Government, Canberra. Accessed 1 July 2014. Available from: http://www.cmd.act.gov.au/policystrategic/digitalcanberra/actionplan
Economist. 2004. A Brief History of Wi-Fi. Economist Newspaper Limited.
Evenepoel, S; Verbrugge, S; Lannoo, B; Colle, D; Pickavet, M. 2012. 'Municipal Wi-Fi Value Network Configurations: Impact of Motivations, Pricing and Topology'. Paper presented at the The Conference of Telecommunication, Media and Internet Techno-Economics, Athens.
Francis, H. 2014. ‘Internode Officially Launches AdelaideFree Public Wi-Fi’. The Australian. Accessed 26 June 2014. Available from: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business
Gallagher, K. 2014. ‘Free Public WiFi Announcement, Part of Digital Canberra Action Plan’. ACT Government Press Release. Accessed 2 June 2014. Available from: http://canberralive.act.gov.au/events/event/digital-canberra-event/
Gibbons, J; Ruth, S. 2006. 'Municipal Wi-Fi: Big Wave or Wipeout’'. Internet Computing, IEEE 10(3): 66-71.
Goggin, G. 2007. 'An Australian Wireless Commons'. Media International Australia (125): 118-130.
Gregg, M. 2011. Work's Intimacy. Canbridge, UK: Polity Press.
Habuchi, I. 2005. ‘Accelerated Reflexivity’. In M. Ito, D. Okabe & M. Matsuda (Eds.), Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life. Cambridge Massachusetts: MIT Press.
Hampton, K. N; Livio, O; Goulet, L. S. 2010. 'The Social Life of Wireless Urban Spaces: Internet Use, Social Networks, and the Public Realm'. Journal of Communication 60(4): 701-722.
Heer, T; Hummer, R; Viol, N; Wirtz, H; Gotz, S; Wehrle, K. 2010. 'Collaborative Municipal Wi-Fi Networks: Challenges and Opportunities'. Paper presented at the 8th IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications.
Humphreys, L. 2007. 'Mobile Social Networks and Social Practice: A Case Study of Dodgeball'. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13(1).
Juniper Research. 2013. ‘Mobile Data Offload & Onload: Wi-Fi, Small Cell and Carrier-Grade Strategies’. Report published by Juniper Research. Accessed 5 June 2014. Available from: http://www.juniperresearch.com/reports/mobile_data_offload_&_onload
Lambert, A; McQuire, S; Papastergiadis, N. 2013. ‘Free Wi-Fi and Public Space: The State of Australian Public Initiatives’. Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society.
Ling, R. 2008. New Tech, New Ties: How Mobile Communication is Reshaping Social Cohesion. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
McClure, D. P; Titch, S; Cox, B; Giovanetti, T; Tuerck, D; Rizzuto, R. 2005. ‘Not in the Public Interest: The Myth of Municipal Wi-Fi Networks. Washington’. Report for the New Millennium Research Council.
Mitchell, D. 2003. The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space. New York: Guilford Press.
Potts, J. 2014. 'Economics of Public Wi-Fi'. Australian Journal of Telecommunications and the Digital Economy 2(1): 20.21-20.29.
Robertson, K. 2013. ‘City of Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi Announces Free Wi-Fi Service in Perth's CBD’. Perth Now News. Accessed 7 November 2013. Available from: http://www.perthnow.com.au/news
Sandvig, C. 2004. 'An Initial Assessment of Cooperative Action in Wi-Fi Networking'. Telecommunications Policy 28: 579-602.
Shaffer, G. 2007. 'Frame-Up: An Analysis of Arguments For and Against Municipal Wireless Initiatives'. Public Works Management and Policy 11(3): 204-216.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2013. 'Internet Activity, Australia, December 2013’. Accessed 8 June 2014. Available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/8153.0/
Tonkiss, F. 2005. Space, the City and Social Theory: Social Relations and Urban Forms. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Wollongong City Council. 2012. ‘Council Meeting Notes. Item 3: Free Wi-Fi in the City Centre’ (27 February 2012). Accessed 10 January 2013. Available from: http://www.wollongong.nsw.gov.au/council/meetings/BusinessPapers/

Most read articles by the same author(s)