Young people and wi-fi

youth_wifiWhat is the role of government in public Wi-Fi provision?

Ubiquitous connectivity through mobile devices is reshaping the social life, economic activity and governance of cities. A new surge of government investment in public Wi-Fi infrastructure is occurring within a telecommunications environment underpinned by market liberal principles. This research will explore the role and function of government in the provision of infrastructure for the wireless city by documenting and analysing the processes through which the Victorian Department of State Development, Business and Innovation (DSDBI) public Wi-Fi trials for Melbourne, Ballarat and Bendigo were conceived, negotiated, publicised and implemented.


Across the globe, the transformation of social, commercial and governmental engagement by mobile connectivity are overlaying existing conceptual and material constructs of urban infrastructure with a new conception of the wireless city. By international comparison, though, Australian cities have lagged in the availability of public internet access through Wi-Fi technology. This gap is now closing, particularly through investment by Australian local government authorities  and state governments.


 The Team

Project Leader

Chief Investigators

International Partner Investigators

  • Prof. Catherine Middleton – Canada Research Chair, Communication Technologies in the Information Society (
  • Prof. Hasan Bakhshi – Director, Creative Economy in Policy & Research, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) (

Research Associate

Research Ethics

This research is conducted in accordance with RMIT University’s Human Research Ethics protocols. The project approval number is CHEAN A – 0000015711-09/13. If you have concerns regarding this project which you do not wish to discuss with the researchers you can contact the Ethics Officer, Research Integrity, Governance and Systems, RMIT University, GPO Box 2476V  VIC  3001. Tel: (03) 9925 2251 or email

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