FREE Wi-Fi is now accessible in central Ballarat, but only within a 200-metre radius of the Town Hall.
The pilot program was launched by Treasurer Michael O’Brien in Ballarat on Wednesday.
The state government granted $6.7 million to iiNet to operate the service in Ballarat, Melbourne and Bendigo for the next five years.
Two sites in central Ballarat, near the Town Hall, are active Bridge Mall, the Botanical Gardens, Camp Street, Sturt Street between Grenville and Dawson streets and the block between Mair and Dana streets will receive the service in the next six to 12 months.
The Lake Wendouree foreshore and cafe, retail, civic and rail precincts were listed as priority delivery areas for the service.
Residents will have a 250MB download limit per device each day in outdoor public spaces.
The service will not carry advertising, request personal email addresses or passwords or collect browsing history.
iiNet technology officer Mark Dioguardi said the service provided a benchmark for modern communities.
“It’s great for communities, it’s great for the town (and) it’s going to connect people, businesses and even machines across the city,” he said.
Sturt Street cafe Yellow Espresso owners Leo and Santina Trigazis welcomed the move.
“It’s fantastic for tourists. Overseas tourists visiting Ballarat will need Wi-Fi,” Mrs Trigazis said.
“We wanted it in the cafe because in this day and age people come in with their laptops, have lunch and want to do work.”
IT guru George Fong said residents should be cautious when using public hot spots.
“Given that it’s an open Wi-Fi system, there are sensible cautions people need to take,” he said.
“Make sure you have a decent firewall. There are bad guys, as well as good guys, who use open networks.”