Why WiFi?

A panel discussion on the provision of public WiFi in Australia

Hosted by the Centre for Communication, Politics and Culture, RMIT University
10.00-11.00 am (with morning tea to follow)
Thursday, 12 December
RMIT Swanston Academic Building, 440 Swanston St, Level 4, Room 19 (Map)
Please RSVP to: publicwifiaustralia@gmail.com

Australian local authorities showed little interest in public WiFi during its international development boom in the early 2000s, and Australia was largely bypassed by the policy and scholarly debates of this period. New proposals and experiments with public WiFi by several Australian local governments and public transport authorities suggest the provision gap between Australia and many other parts of the globe is closing. These developments are occurring within a new technological and policy environment characterized by the introduction of next generation networks and new rules around network interoperability, and the emergence of new business models and strategic alliances between commercial and public providers. They have the potential to overcome some existing blockages to public WiFi provision, but raise new questions over rationales for public investment.

This panel discussion will explore the policy, economic, technological and social dimensions surrounding the introduction of public WiFi networks in Australia.

The panel will be introduced by Associate Professor Chris Hudson (RMIT University), co-director of the Centre for Communication, Politics and Culture and Associate Professor in the School of Media and Communication.

Panelists are:

Mr Colin Fairweather (City of Melbourne) is Chief Information Officer at the City of Melbourne.

Dr Ian McShane (RMIT University) is a research associate of the CCI and a senior research fellow in the Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University. He writes on educational and cultural policy, community infrastructure, and the digital economy.

Professor Jason Potts (RMIT University) is a centre fellow in the CCI and professor in the RMIT School of Economics, Finance and Marketing. He is an evolutionary economist specialising in the economics of innovation and growth through technological and institutional change. He has developed the analytic basis for the use of complex systems theory and population dynamics in modelling evolutionary economic processes. His current work focuses on the economics of creativity.

Dr Mark Gregory (RMIT University) is a senior telecommunications and network engineering academic in the RMIT School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He conducts research in the fields of network engineering, internet security and telecommunications. Mark is a Fellow of Engineers Australia and a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.

Professor Julian Thomas (Swinburne University of Technology) is a chief investigator in the CCI, director of the Swinburne Institute for Social Research, and professor of media and communications at Swinburne University of Technology. He conducts research on media and communications policy, histories of new communications technologies and intellectual property and information policy.