The government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has today published a new document that outlines the three wireless connectivity options available for cities taking part in the troubled, state-aid supported £150m Super Connected Cities Programme (SCCP).
One aspect of the SCCP project that has remained intact, unlike the budget for fixed line broadband infrastructure that was scrapped following EU competition concerns (here), was a requirement that each of the selected cities (here and here) work to roll-out “wide-spread, fast and high-quality” wireless / wifi internet services.
The new document provides a final description of the wireless options within the SCCP (mostly focused on city centres) and the activity suppliers can expect to see from SCCP cities “over the coming months“.
The Three SCCP Wireless Connectivity Options
Wireless Concession Contract
Under this option, the City authority grants an operator the right to use City authority assets to provide a wireless communications network and receives payments (fees and revenues) in return. The assets are usually street furniture (i.e. lampposts, CCTV, traffic lights etc.) and buildings.
City authorities have been provided with guidance on structuring wireless concession contracts so as not to impede any existing wireless deployment initiatives which may already be underway in their cities.
Hot Spots in Public Buildings
This option is focused on the establishment of wireless technologies within public buildings, to provide wireless connectivity for members of the public within the buildings, as opposed to outside. Examples include Council buildings, museums, libraries and health centres. A hot spot is a site that offers internet access over a wireless local area network (WLAN) through the use of a router connected to a link to an internet service provider.
Hot spots typically use Wi-Fi technology, but DCMS has recommended that City authorities adopt a technology neutral approach. By focusing on the desired outcomes it allows suppliers to introduce innovation or alternative technologies if appropriate.
This option provides for the implementation of improved wireless connectivity on public transport services focused within city centres such as buses and trams, where the service cost is less than the De minimis threshold for State aid and/or the transport service is publically owned and operated.
Offering improved wireless connectivity on transport services increases the attractiveness of city centres to visitors, businesses and residents and promotes economic growth, as well as supporting environmental initiatives and assisting in the reduction of traffic congestion.
The document reveals that nearly all (21) of the selected cities are “considering” a wireless concession contract of some form, while 16 plan to install wifi hotspots in public buildings and 8 are looking at wireless transport services projects.