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Ex-Swindon UK Leader Given Wireless Router to Mark Free WiFi Flop

Friday, Apr 12th, 2013 (1:28 pm) - Score 1,255

The outgoing leader of Swindon Borough Council (SBC), Rod Bluh (Conservative), has been handed the gift of a Wi-Fi router by his opponent Derique Montaut (Labour). The award was given as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Bluh’s oversight of the flawed plan to roll-out a universal free wireless internet service across the borough.

Regular readers might recall that the £400k loan to blanket Swindon with a free wifi service (aka – Signal), which formed part of a wider Digital City initiative, was first announced in 2009 (here). Residents were initially promised free access to a basic connectivity solution and anybody wanting faster speeds (e.g. 20Mbps) could select from a variety of paid upgrade options.

At the time Rod Bluh described the plan as “truly ground-breaking” and said that it would also “provide the Council with a unique funding stream“. Unfortunately the network failed to generate the necessary return and ended up running into financial difficulty.

Derique Montaut, Swindon’s Labour Group, said (Swindon Advertiser):

And of course Rod’s greatest vision was to bring free universal wi-fi wherever you were in Swindon. So to mark Rod’s time of office as Swindon’s visionary leader I have clubbed together with others to give you some celebratory presents.

Firstly, a book on canals signed by the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal Trust because we know you’re a big fan of canals. And secondly, a wi-fi router, so that wherever you go you will never be without your Wi-Fi.”

Last year UK Broadband (PCCW) stepped in to replace the dysfunctional service with a commercial and public sector focused hybrid microwave / 4G (LTE / 3.5GHz) alternative (here). The service has since been rolled out to various parts of Swindon, Southwark and Reading. Unfortunately the new solution no longer offers a free connection to local residents like the old one.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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