The Wiltshire town of Swindon is set to become the first in the UK to provide free Wi-Fi internet access to all its residents.
The Wi-Fi mesh will be provided by a £1m partnership between Swindon Borough Council and digital technology firm aQovia, forming a company called Digital City UK Ltd, and operating under the brand name ‘Signal’.
The costs of installing 1,400 secure internet access points will be covered by charging home users, local businesses and visitors for faster broadband or unlimited broadband packages.
According to the Council, the whole community will be given free wireless internet connections and free line rental, with the ability to roam freely across the Borough while staying online. The free Wi-Fi will allow access to the internet and email, but will not allow streaming of TV or video without upgrading to a paid-for package. Pricing details of internet packages are yet to be confirmed.
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It’s claimed that subscribers will be able to sign up for 20Mb/s upgrades ‘for significantly less per month than major broadband competitors’, following a three-month trial. There will also be pay-as-you-go (PAYG) options for visitors to the town.
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The first phase of Swindon’s Wi-Fi network will be switched on in Highworth in early December with the remainder of the project being completed by the end of April.
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Rod Bluh, Swindon Borough Council Leader, said: ‘This is a truly groundbreaking partnership which will have real benefits for everyone living in Swindon.
‘Not only will residents in the Borough be able to access the internet for free, the Council and its partners will be able to use the technology to provide cutting edge services to the areas or individuals who need them.’
More information about Swindon’s Wi-Fi plans is available on the Get Signal website. If Swindon’s trial proves successful, Digital City UK Ltd has the intention of working on similar roll-outs of the technology in other towns and cities across the UK.
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