TETSURO MITOMO/FAIRFAX NZ

South Canterbury A&P Association secretary Reto Oswald, left, and Waimate Community Wireless Trust advisor Mike Dooley test out new free wireless internet at South Canterbury A&P Showground

Free wireless internet could be available in Waimate within the next two months as the Waimate Community Wireless Trust looks to expand its service area.

This followed the expansion of free wireless internet across the South Canterbury A&P Showground in Waimate earlier this month.

Trust operating manager Matt Hampton hoped to extend a free wireless internet connection into the town, using a school’s existing fibre broadband.

Seddon Square and the centre of Waimate were the next areas on the trust’s expansion list.

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He hoped they would have free wireless internet available within the next two months.

“The future bodes well, I can’t see why we can’t grow,” Hampton said.

“We’ve gone from talking the talk to walking the walk.”

More than 220 connections have been made “faultlessly” at the showgrounds since the start of March when it was first introduced.

“This equates to more than 450 brand views.”

Anyone who wanted to use the free wifi would need to log in using their email, Facebook, Google+ or Twitter by using certain software.

“This allows us to generate a database of users,” Hampton said.

The basic demographic information would enable the association to market to users.

When a person logged in, an advertisement would appear on their screen for six seconds before they could access the free internet, which gave the association the opportunity to showcase their sponsors, he said.

South Canterbury A&P Association secretary Reto Oswald said installing free wireless internet was an important addition to the showgrounds, particularly as a new hall was being built.

“Nowadays, it’s a must,” Oswald said.

If people wanted to add anything to their social media, they might not be able to if they have limited data, he said.

This would solve that problem.

The association paid several thousand dollars for hardware, but it would be the last major cost until any equipment needed to be updated.

Users of the new multi-purpose hall would be some of the people who benefited.

The community-funded hall, which is a joint venture of the association and Waimate Shears, had the roof and walls up.

March had been the original completion deadline, but heavy rain at the end of the year slowed down building progress.

Oswald said it would take a couple of months to fit out the hall and install the windows.

The association and Waimate Shears were still about $200,000 short of their funding target, but it was still an achievable goal, he said.

The community has been “very supportive”.

Between 10,000 to 15,000 people were expected to use the hall annually for a range of events.

 – Stuff