HQWiFi technical director Uan Spijkerbosch, of Queenstown,
works in the Post Office Cafe, one of 120 internet hotspots
the company created in the Southern Lakes. Photo by James
A Queenstown internet company is keeping up with
tourists' demand for free fast Wi-Fi, installing an average of
two new antennas a week.
HQWiFi founder and technical director Uan Spijkerbosch said
he and his four full-time Queenstown staff were working hard
to maintain the 67 Wi-Fi hotspots they installed in the
resort and the extra 53 hotspots located in Arrowtown and
Wanaka, all installed since 2000.
There were about 10,000 visitors to Queenstown every day
during peak seasons, on top of a technologically savvy
resident population, and virtually everyone carried a
Free and fast Wi-Fi has quickly become a deciding factor for
tourists in choosing where to sleep, shop and spend that many
establishments make a point of advertising Wi-Fi capability.
Asked why some hotels charged guests up to $60 a day for
often slow internet access, Mr Spijkerbosch said some
multinational hotels were still bound by contracts signed by
head office on the old model where the user paid, instead of
the provider, although many such contracts were due to
The entrepreneur said he read with interest Queenstown Times
reports about Telecom's success with its free trial Wi-Fi
service in the resort during summer.
Telecom said more than 3000 people were logging on to the
regional service each day since its mid-December launch. This
was about 10% of the whole user population across the
country, across more than 43 locations New Zealand-wide.
Telecom said Queenstown Wi-Fi was the most popular service in
the Southern Lakes, with more than 250 users per day,
although users in Wanaka, Lake Hawea and Arrowtown were also
accessing the service regularly.
The picture of the resort as a growing hub for global
telecommunications becomes sharper when HQWIFI user numbers
are factored in.
''We've been recording usage of all 20 of our free services
since December 19. In this time we've had a total of 14,540
users, with 3900 users on the Arrowtown service alone.
''This works out to be about 362 per day. Our free usage is
unlimited in data and ranges from 15 minutes to two hours,
depending on the location and the arrangement we have in
place with the host.
''Our login page is viewed on average 1000 times per day ...
2000 per day during winter.''
Mr Spijkerbosch started in the internet business by setting
up public coin-operated internet kiosks in 2004 and created a
wireless network to support them. However, the kiosks proved
to be cost-prohibitive and demand for use of the network
escalated, which prompted HQWiFi to phase out the kiosks, as
devices became more portable, and continue the network.
Today the company offers a mix of free services in
restaurants, cafes, accommodation providers and street side,
as well as with the Queenstown Lakes District Council and
Lakes Leisure introduced a free permanent HQWiFi service in
the Queenstown Events Centre in December.
''We're in the process of upgrading our services to fibre,
doubling data on our prepaid and account plans as well as
providing a HQWiFi@Home service which allows high-speed
access at home and roaming within our sites around the
Asked if he thought free public Wi-Fi could be introduced
permanently into downtown Queenstown, Mr Spijkerbosch
estimated it would cost ratepayers $400,000 to set up the
service and $200,000 a year to maintain it.
''I don't think it's affordable and I don't think it's really
needed. Why should the council provide a service that
businesses are keen to provide for free?''