Wi-Fi Wireless Internet Access in Australia

Travelled by Brucini on 13 January 2009 | 3 Comments

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Brucini Brucini

Brucini started seriously travelling after attempting to move to Queenstown, New Zealand, in 1996.Inspired by drunkenly meeting a world of travelers on a Kiwi Experience bus, he changed his plans and roamed the world for a year. ...Find out more!

Wi-Fi Wireless Internet Access in Australia
Wi-Fi Wireless Internet Access in Australia

Increasing numbers of backpackers are travelling with laptops. A recent April 2008 survey commissioned by Hostelworld.com showed that 35% of backpackers travel with laptops. Unlike many other developed countries, Australia does not have particularly good wireless coverage - due to its geographic size and relative lack of telecommunications competition. Finding coverage is one thing, finding inexpensive connections is another. Some recent developments, however, are good news for travellers with laptops in Australia.

Backpackers love free stuff. Many also like fast food.  So it’s great McDonalds restaurants have announced that by 2009 there will be free wireless in their restaurants across Australia. It makes sense that they should reach out and target tech-savvy travellers and their home-grown target market as the “restaurant” takes on more of a “healthy cafe” marketing vibe.  The news that most of the Starbucks stores in Australia are closing certainly made the decision for McDonalds much easier.

If you are looking for free Wi-Fi access and hotspots generally across Australia then start here - http://www.wififreespot.com/aus.html and http://www.freewifi.com.au/ You might be surprised how many public institutions (museums, libraries) offer free Wi-Fi.

When you’re booking accommodation it’s easy enough to scan the the room descriptions with increasing numbers of properties offering free Wi-Fi as part of your room tarriff.  Australia does have a user-pay attitude generally and costs are obviously more prohibitive for cheaper accommodations to offer services for free. This though may only be because they haven’t yet fully appreciated the (ongoing) market shift to portable technology amongst their core clientele.

Backpacker hostels are increasingly turning to Global Gossip to install and manage their internet access and Wi-Fi connections.  Certainly many market-leading hostels have partnered up and this is a good place to find a hostel with Wi-Fi access: http://globalgossip.com/locations/ You will have to pay for Wi-Fi at all Global Gossip locations.

If you are flying around Australia from late-2009/2010 there’s a fair chance you’ll have internet access on Qantas planes. The Australian Communications and Media Authority recently gave permission for a year long trial on a commercial plane.  You’ll have to pay for it but it may well make the difference to your travel choices. Newer long-haul Airbus A380 aircraft that are coming into international service will all feature the latest wireless connectivity.

The savvy backpacker will no doubt continue to try their luck and pilfer a free Wi-Fi connection while waiting for a flight. Ever noticed people with laptops at airports sitting up against or close to the walls of Frequent Flyer Member lounges trying to pilfer an unsecured connection?

For the time being until the cost of technology catches with demand, rates fall and airports and accommodation suppliers try to better cater for laptop-toting travellers you’ll have to pay to be guaranteed a connection. If you’re on the move in Australia, Australia Post shops, Dick Smith electronic stores and Telstra, Optus, Dodo and other leading internet suppliers all sell pre-paid wireless kits for your laptop.

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