The service center has been a staple of Australian culture since the late 1800s, and while it has evolved, the idea of one still remains.
But a new service center in the middle of Melbourne’s CBD is now opening its doors to the public, in what could be the first in Australia to offer free internet.
The Melbourne-based company behind the centre, HSL Technology, says it is “working with Melbourne City Council to open the centre as soon as possible”.
HSL’s service center is part of a wider expansion of the city’s public internet infrastructure, which is now expected to reach 250,000 homes and businesses.
“Our service center aims to be a hub for the public to connect to our vast network of digital services,” said HSL managing director Mike McKeown in a statement.
“This new service centre will give our community a place to stay up to date with the latest information and to receive the most up-to-date and relevant news and information, without the need for a bulky, cumbersome office or a car.”
While HSL has been building out its digital infrastructure, it has been using the public service provision to bring internet access to those with a disability.
“The first stage of the public services network is to provide broadband access to people with physical disabilities,” said McKeon in a press release.
“Next, we’re looking at the next stage of our network, which will enable people with intellectual disabilities to access the internet through our technology network.”
This is the first public service facility in Australia that will provide internet access for people with a physical disability.
There are currently no other services that provide internet connectivity to people without a disability, with the only other such facility being the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s mobile internet.
While the service center at the Melbourne CBD service center, which was opened by the Melbourne City council earlier this month, is not officially part of the network, the centre does have a dedicated number on the city council website.
The number is “1333”, which is the same as the number for a city service centre.
A spokeswoman for the council told BuzzFeed News that the number was being used to “provide advice and guidance on services and facilities for the City Council and other community stakeholders”.
However, the spokeswoman also confirmed that there would be a separate number for people without physical disabilities, which would be 1334.
HSL says that, as with all services, it would “provid[e] all services for people who need it”.
But McKenys statement also suggests that the service centre is not necessarily going to be open to the general public, as there is a separate “services and facilities” section.
The council also confirmed to BuzzFeed News on Wednesday that it had requested the company to expand the public internet access at the service centres in Melbourne and Sydney.
“We are pleased to confirm that the City of Melbourne has requested that we open the HSL service center as soon this week to meet the increasing demand for broadband access for those with disabilities in the city,” said the spokesperson.
“It is a very important part of our overall network.
We look forward to providing more information about this in the coming weeks.”
HSL said it was working with the City on the expansion of its public internet network, and will open the service in phases.
The service centre was announced in October, but the council has been working with HSL to ensure that the centre is ready to open by November, as part of an effort to “reach everyone”.
The city council’s press release also said that “as part of this expansion, the council is planning to extend the service to include the use of mobile internet.”
“The service centre and all other services will be free to use and will operate for a limited time,” it said.
The company said that, with a $25 million investment in the service, it will “be able to provide more than 10,000 premises with internet connectivity”.
But the council said that the expansion would not be complete until the summer, and that it would be “essential” for people to “use all the available capacity” before the end of the year.
“Once we open, it’s likely that many people with disabilities will be using the service.
However, many people who are already using the services will not be able to access it until the winter,” said Melbourne City Councillor Rob Evans.
The City Council has also asked that HSL “implement an accessibility plan for the service,” and to “work closely with the local disability organisations” to improve the “service and facility access for the community”.