World's First WiFi Nation

The Polynesian island-nation of Niue (260 square kilometers) becomes the first country to have nationwide free wireless Internet access

June 23, 2003

3 Min Read

ALOFI, Niue, The South Pacific -- The Internet Users Society – Niue (IUS-N), today announced that it has launched the world’s first free nation-wide WiFi Internet access service on the Polynesian island-nation of Niue. This new free wireless service which can be accessed by all Niue residents, tourists, government offices and business travelers, is being provided at no cost to the public or local government.

"WiFi is the prefect fit for the Island of Niue, where harsh weather conditions of rain, lightning, salt water, and high humidity cause major problems with underground copper lines," said Richard St Clair, Co-Founder and Technical Manager at The Internet Users Society - Niue and Chairman, Pacific Island Chapter ISOC. "And since WiFi is a license free technology by International Agreement, no license is needed either by the provider or the user."

WiFi, 802.11 or IEEE 802.11 is a type of radio technology used for wireless local area networks, based on a standard developed by the IEEE for local and wire networks within the 802.11 section. WiFi 802.11 is composed of several standards operating in different frequencies.

A substantial portion of Niue’s tourism comes from visiting yacht traffic during the non-cyclone season. Yachts with onboard computer equipment with WiFi cards and external antennas will be able to park in the harbor and access full Internet services from their vessels as an open node, also free of charge. Other visitors, consultants and tourists to the island who carry laptops with either built in WiFi or as an add-on, will also have the ability to connect to the open node free of charge for the duration of their stay. Local Internet users with recent-vintage laptops will find the built in wireless features useful as more areas are covered with RF, and users who may be in the more congested telephone circuit locales such as Alofi central will also benefit from the new technology. One government office is already hooked up to the WiFi service and it is expected others will join in as soon as the appropriate hardware is installed.

IUS-N continues to be a leader in developing appropriate technologies to enable low-cost, dependable Internet services for all, for small nations like Niue. IUS-N technology is a model for other providers to use in developing nations that face the same hostile weather environments and where there are restrictions on the older technologies for wireless Internet services or where license costs are very high. Because these are low-power RF (Radio Frequency) transmitters, plus they consume small amounts of electricity, the technology is appropriate for smaller nations like Niue.

WiFi is the latest free service offer by the IUS-N to all the people in Niue. In 1997, the IUS-N first introduced free Email services to the nation and subsequently launched free full Internet access services in 1999. Earlier this spring free broadband Internet services were deployed at its Internet Café in Niue.

For more information and a topographical network map please see:

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