Swan casts net wide in cheap ISPN search

THE City of Swan is undertaking a study into whether it could provide Internet services for as little as $10 per month.

At the city’s most recent ordinary meeting it was resolved that staff should investigate the cost of establishing an inexpensive, city wide Internet Service Provider Network for the use of ratepayers and non-ratepayers. The feasibility study is expected to take 90 days, with a preliminary report to be presented to council in September.

Councillor Mal Congerton, who proposed the concept, said a number of councils in Australia and overseas had set up similar ventures, but it would be a first for WA.

He said the City of Swan was expecting strong population growth this decade. The city’s current population is 80,000, but that is predicted to reach 140,000 people by 2010.

Councillor Congerton said the city would consider offering a broadband service if this was possible, but the immediate focus would be on providing dial-up services.

“With the high cost of Internet services for families and youth, we could develop and deliver our own Internet service for far less cost, because we’re basically a cost-neutral organisation and we don’t make profit,” Councillor Congerton said.

He said the council had sufficient infrastructure and technology expertise to be able to provide an Internet service, and he anticipated a lot from members of the local community.

“Everything is dollar-driven. You could imagine a ratepayer and/or resident if their local authority prepared to offer this service on a cost-neutral basis, and even if the figure was $10-15, you’d have them jumping ship,” Councillor Congerton said.

“If we could provide an Internet service at say $10 a month rather than the usual service for $300-$400 per month, we’d have a lot of support from our ratepayers.”

The councillor said he believed the city could attract up to 10,000 subscribers from its ratepayer-base of 33,000 households and businesses.

He and other Swan councillors have been discussing the idea with a number of other Perth councils for the past year and, having done some of its own research into what is possible, the council unanimously supported holding a feasibility study into a suitable costing process.

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