Swindon: the UK's first broadband 'Wi-Fi town'£1m network of Wi-Fi hotspots form 'Swindon mesh'

17 November 2009

Signal logo - free Wi-Fi broadband internet for Swindon

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.

Use our guide to find out where and how to find free Wi-Fi hotspots across the UK 

Cheap 20Mb/s broadband upgrades

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.

To find out what speed broadband you need, use our interactive online broadband usage calculator

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.

Which? reviews everything you need for broadband internet access - from Best Buy Wi-Fi routers to the fastest, most reliable broadband providers

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. 

How to follow the latest Which? Tech news

Are you a Twitter user? Follow WhichTech on Twitter for regular tech tweets.

Prefer RSS? Don't miss a thing with the Which? tech RSS feed

For just the main headlines in newsletter form, sign-up to our weekly Which? tech email.

Apple iPad 2 3G data plans compared - find the best 3G plan for your iPad
Best Android tablets round-up - we look at the best iPad alternatives around
Best cheap laptops for under £500 - find the best laptop deals