TASMANIA, Australia — The Tasmanian government is planning to create a $150-million internet cafe for its 1.5 million people who use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
The cafe, to be called “The Couch,” will serve up “sensory-rich experiences,” such as “food, drink and relaxation” in the town of Wodonga, about 90 kilometres west of Darwin.
The project will be led by the Tasmanian Rural Communications Authority (TRCA) and will be funded through a $12.5-million federal stimulus package, the Australian Government said on Monday.
The $150m project, which the government has described as “in the final stages,” is to be funded by $18.5m in the budget and will see the establishment of a regional telecommunications hub.
TRCA CEO Tony Crampton said the cafe would be an extension of the existing “Internet cafe” program and that the cafe “will provide a wide variety of sensory and social experiences” for the community.
Crampton was speaking in Melbourne when the announcement was made.
“We’re talking about providing a variety of different services for people,” Cramton said.
He said the Tasmanians will have the opportunity to learn about technology in a way that they haven’t had before.
“If you’ve never used a smartphone, you can’t use a computer or you can never use a social media site,” Crompton said.
“And you know what?
I think it’s going to be a very good thing.”
People will be able to get connected to their local community and they’ll be able learn about how they can interact with the Internet, how to get help, and what’s happening on their local network.
“The Federal Government is also supporting the development of the site.
In the first round of funding in February, it awarded $45.5million to help fund the project and Cramptons aim to raise another $30.5 to $50 million to fund the second round of the funding.
It will be up to the TRCA to manage the development, including designing the cafe, hiring staff, running it and managing the website.
TracFone has also been approached to help run the cafe.
But Cramontons spokesman Chris Dutton said the company was unable to help the Tasmania Government build out its infrastructure for the cafe and “it was the duty of the TRACCA to make that happen”.”
It is an incredible opportunity for Tasmania to become the first country in the world to have a first-of-its-kind digital cafe,” Dutton told reporters.
As part of the stimulus package approved in February last year, TRACA will also provide $1.5 billion for regional telecommunications infrastructure and $200m to the regional broadband network.