Wollongong residents embrace free Wi-Fi

You might not be able to see it, but the image of central Wollongong is changing - and it's in your hands.

Tech-savvy visitors now have access to the world from the confines of the CBD following the launch of Wollongong City Council's free City Wi-Fi yesterday.

Extending from Gladstone Avenue to Corrimal Street, the safe, accessible service will complement existing coverage within Crown Street Mall.

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said living in such a highly connected society meant people expected to be able to access the internet quickly.

"Wi-Fi is a great opportunity to do that," he said.

"Whether you're in the city for work or leisure, it's now easier than ever to connect with local businesses, find out what's happening and stay in touch with friends."

Sisters Ellena and Alexia Viselli, from Shellharbour, were in favour of the free service as they tested it out in the mall yesterday.

For the sisters, smart phones are an essential part of daily life.

Ellena, 13, welcomed the free access, admitting to sometimes exceeding her monthly data allowance.

Jeff Thom, a researcher at the University of Wollongong, has kept the Wi-Fi issue on the radar through the use of the Twitter hashtag 'wifiinthemall'.

He said that from a developer's perspective the launch signalled the start of "tangible access to the innovation ecosystem for everyone".

"You can wander the mall and be connected to the world," he said.

The Wi-Fi is part of a push to change the image of central Wollongong to a "digitally savvy area" that offers a platform for connectivity to both businesses and visitors.

It is currently available in outdoor areas on Crown Street between Keira and Corrimal streets, along with Globe Lane and the arts precinct on Burelli Street.

The service will be extended west to Gladstone Avenue in coming weeks.

To connect, find "Wollongong City Wi-Fi" in the available wireless network list on your device.

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