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A FREE Wi-Fi service for commuters at Melbourne's key train stations is being delayed because a state government-owned authority wants $44,000 to install a single 100-metre optical fibre cable.
VicTrack, landlord to railways operator Metro Trains, also wants to charge the internet service provider behind the Wi-Fi service, Netbay, $34,000 a year to ''monitor'' the cable.
The cable is the last piece of Netbay's infrastructure needed to start the Wi-Fi service at Flinders Street Station and only has to connect a communications room on Platform 1 to Netbay's computer servers in a room on Platform 5.
The Saturday Age has been told Netbay's internet provider and contractor, AAPT, had quoted less than $2000, and two days' work, to run the cable between the platforms.
It is believed VicTrack originally wanted to charge Netbay $50,000 for connecting external cabling to power in the station's communications room - and then discovered that there was already power available.
VicTrack yesterday declined to confirm or deny the amounts it wanted to charge or that it had told Netbay that installing the cable would take two months.
A spokesman's only response to a query about the terms of the invoice sent out was: ''This is a (Metro Trains) initiative and VicTrack has provided an offer of services on a commercial basis.''
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