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Internet comes to town, for free

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Community Bank Customer Service Officers Sharren and Rachel take advantage of the free wi-fi by taking a ‘selfie’, with Council ICT manager Lalitha Koya and Daniel Williams (Network & Systems Admin) showing Central Ward Councillor Paul Tatchell how it all works. Photo: Helen Tatchell

By Kate Taylor

A bi-partisan relationship with a bank and a council will bring a town into the future with free wi-fi.
Ballan Community Bank Branch has partnered with Moorabool Shire council on a project in the main street.
“We’re very excited to offer free wi-fi in the main street of Ballan,” Council’s CEO Derek Madden told the Moorabool News.
“It will provide a great opportunity for residents, visitors and our many home-based business owners to spend time at cafes or on our new outdoor bench seats and have quality access to the internet,” he said.
The hardware and equipment costs for the project are about $8,000 – the Ballan Bank will pay $4,000 and council will pay the remaining half along with installation and ongoing costs.
It is projected the wi-fi will be up and running in coming weeks.
Ballan Community Bank Branch manager Luke Calder said there is one wi-fi antenna at the bank, as well as one at the Mechanics’ Institute and two at other businesses, providing the whole street with free wi-fi.
“It’ll just be free, no password, free wi-fi for everyone,” he told the Moorabool News.
“We believe that it’s a great opportunity for people in Ballan to be able to access the internet – there may be people who haven’t got the ability to access the internet in their homes, and there are kids who may need to log on for school work, or people who may want to do job applications. By doing this, we believe we are putting in an asset and making our town a more attractive place to be,” he said.
“…and providing services that everyone can log onto. We’re trying to make life easier for the people of Ballan.”
Central Ward councillor Paul Tatchell said there has been and is, a strong focus on economic development.
“Free wi-fi encourages people to frequent the local businesses and reduce the cost of complimentary services,” he said.
“Free wi-fi is not a new idea and is common-place in tourist towns.”
Cr Tatchell said he was pleased that “we (council) are continuing to promote and enhance the buy local theme.”
And if you live in Bacchus Marsh and think you have missed out, don’t panic. A Council spokesperson said the work being done in Ballan is a pilot project.
“We will monitor the success of this project and then determine if we can expand the free Wi Fi service into other areas.”