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UPDATE Government Brings FREE WiFi to 1,000 UK Public Buildings

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 (9:44 am) - Score 687
wifi wireless signal

The Government has today announced that it expects 1,000 public buildings (e.g. libraries, museums, civic centres and transport hubs etc.) across some of the United Kingdom’s largest cities to be offering a free WiFi hotspot (wireless Internet) service by March 2015.

The development is said to reflect on-going investment through the Government’s £150m Urban Broadband Fund (“Super-Connected Cities“), which readers might recall is being used as a tool to improve business and public sector broadband connectivity in 22 cities across the United Kingdom (including London, Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh etc.).

Some of that money was also earmarked to help the related cities roll-out “high-speed public WiFi” networks and the fruits of this investment are now starting to be felt. For example, some 30 public buildings in Cardiff (Wales) have already activated the service. Wales secured a total UBF allocation of up to £12.6m, but most of that is being used for business broadband connection vouchers and not wifi.

Ed Vaizey, Digital Economy Minister, said:

The digital landscape of the UK is undergoing a period of tremendous improvement and is all part of the Government’s long term economic plan. For business, visitors and the UK public, accessing wifi in our cities is absolutely vital. These free hotspots will be instrumental in making UK cities even more appealing as places to not only do business, but to visit as well.”

It should be said that many other cities are also rolling out free wifi services and often without using the UBF investment, thus the actual total of buildings covered is likely to be much larger than the 1,000 quoted above. Many of those networks will also extend beyond the local authorities own public buildings, with some being virtually city-wide deployments.

UPDATE 2:18pm

The Portsmouth City Council has just chimed in to confirm that their own free wifi network is also being rolled out. The first Wi-Fi hotspot at Somerstown Central launches in mid-November along with the Portsmouth Park and Ride terminal building and Portsmouth City Museum. The rest of the locations will be rolled out over the coming months with more than 40 hotspots up and running by the end of March 2015.

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