£5m funding gives city connectivity
Free WiFi for Edinburgh in landmark deal
Free WiFi and improved mobile coverage will be made available across Edinburgh city centre following a landmark deal between the city council and intechnologyWiFi.
It will bring 24/7 high-speed internet connectivity and has been funded by the UK Government as part of its SuperConnected Cities programme which saw more than £5 million awarded to Edinburgh.
The WiFi network is central to the council’s plans for growing the city economy and encouraging residents and visitors to stay longer and increase their spend.
Users of the service will also benefit from savings to their mobile data plans, by being able to access the internet at no cost, and without restrictions on time, while on-the-go.
The announcement comes as new online YouGov research has revealed that 43% of Britons are frustrated by the lack of free, public WiFi networks available across the UK, while one in four people (24%) would be more likely to stay longer in a town or city centre with access to free WiFi.
To this end, the WiFi network could drive greater footfall in Edinburgh’s city centre, supporting the high street and local economy, while making it easier for tourists to access city information online.
IntechnologyWiFi is installing and operating the WiFi network at no cost to the council, and has been granted exclusive use of the council’s street furniture and properties to locate the equipment required to provide seamless, easy-to-access internet coverage to users. This is distinct from the traditional hotspot model, which usually provides connectivity in a very small or specific area.
Plans for the installation are being finalised, with the WiFi network set to be rolled-out in a phased basis over summer and autumn.
Councillor Frank Ross, digital champion, said: “This is great news as everyone will be able to get free access to the latest information on their favourite apps and websites while they are out and about. It will be particularly beneficial for the millions of residents and visitors who enjoy our festivals each year.
“This project is central to the council’s plans for growing the city economy, and encouraging residents and visitors to stay longer and increase their spend.”
Natalie Duffield, chief executive of intechnologyWiFi, said: “The awarding of the contract represents a bold step forward for Edinburgh in meeting the demands of its residents and visitors for ‘always on’ connectivity.”
The launch of the WiFi network is the final project of the council’s Connected Capital Programme, which aims to make Edinburgh one of the best-connected cities in Britain. Residents and visitors to the city are already benefitting from free WiFi on all trams and Lothian Buses, as well as in just under 70 key public buildings.
Additionally, the broadband voucher scheme (which is now closed) has provided over over 970 businesses in the Edinburgh City Region with faster broadband connections, allowing businesses to be more productive and efficient.
Edinburgh is one of 22 cities across the UK that has benefitted from the UK Government’s £150m Super Connected Cities Programme, managed by Broadband Delivery UK.
UK Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “I’m delighted that Edinburgh have delivered another element of the UK’s Superconnected Cities as part of the Government programme. It’s vital that our cities have the digital infrastructure like place to deal with the demands of the digital age.
“Our investment in the Edinburgh Wireless Concession will deliver a welcome boost to the local economy, and provide an extremely useful facility for residents and visitors alike.”