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"Excellent for casual browsing": Good news on free Wi-Fi in Orange, but is it enough?

October 17, 2022

A photo of a charging station from Orange City Council papers.

By David Fitzsimons

Providing free public Wi-Fi to the Orange CBD is going to be a whole lot cheaper than was first thought – because it’s already here.

An investigation by Orange City Council staff into how to provide the service as part of plans to upgrade the CBD has discovered Telstra already offers free Wi-Fi from five pink public booths - they look like old phone boxes - along Summer Street.

The Telstra booths can be used by everyone – not just Telstra customers.

“We also tested the quality of these services and found that it is excellent for casual browsing near the phone booths and better than council would usually provide to the public,” the report found.

A map showing free public Wi-Fi in Orange from Orange City Council Papers.

Public Wi-Fi is also already available in and near council buildings thanks to the council’s own network.

However, if the council wants to extend the public Wi-Fi to other CBD areas, particularly those not near the public networks, it would turn to internet providers.

The report says the providers would be asked to install and manage any stand-alone Wi-Fi points.

One area likely to be considered is Lords Place south where council’s latest CBD upgrade plans are focussed and will be debated at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

The report said other options for providing Wi-Fi in the city would be expensive and involve construction works in the CBD.

It said council should aim to inform the public about the existing Wi-Fi service.

In June the Youth Action Committee called for the provision of public Wi-Fi in the city and in August council voted to seek a report on the costs and feasibility.

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