April 3, 2014
by Scott Grenney
Visitors to Plymouth’s waterfront will be able to enjoy free Wi-Fi on the move as early as this summer as the city signs up to create the biggest free public Wi-Fi network in the South West.
Plymouth City Council is to sign a concession contract with BT to roll out the network which will provide free coverage for the Waterfront, Royal William Yard and the City Centre.
And additional coverage is also being planned to help those most in need across the city get online.
Councillor Tudor Evans said: “This is fantastic news both for visitors and local people. A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes on this extremely important project to get us to the contract stage. If we are serious about being open for business and about attracting visitors, we need to make it as easy as possible for them to access information.
“We aim to have Waterfront coverage up and running in time to coincide with our summer events programme and for the City Centre in time to help out for the Christmas shopping period.
“We know this is what many people want and are beginning to expect. Visitors will arrive in the city, click onto the page and see what’s on and where to go. We can also keep our residents more in the loop with what we are doing. Those most in need, without internet access will now find it easier to at least have a basic level of access to the internet revolution.”
The network will be 100 per cent free for all users 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The move will enable thousands more people to tap into the wealth of information on the web to help them buy in Plymouth, get around the city, eat, drink as well as enjoy activities in Plymouth.
The network will be available to anyone following a simple one-off log in, people will then be taken automatically to a landing page which will provide search facilities and links to key useful sites for visitors, residents and businesses.
Councillor Evans said: “Mobile access to the internet, particularly through tablets and smart phones has grown massively in recent years and mobile access is often the only means of connection for many poorer people who cannot commit to monthly contracts.”
The project will not cost the Council tax payer anything, in fact the project promises to generate revenues which the Council aims to reinvest to help more people benefit from the internet across the city.
David Parlby, Chief Executive of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce and Chair of Digital Plymouth said: “It shows that we are modern and forward-looking – it sends out all the right messages for potential investors as well as visitors.
“It will encourage people to become more familiar with digital technology which, in turn is good for ICT skills.”
Paul Coles, BT South West regional manager, said: “More and more people are using wi-fi enabled devices to log onto the internet via BT Wi-fi. In fact, our research shows 75 per cent of people who get online whilst out and about, use wi-fi to do so.
“BT already operates the largest Wi-fi network in the UK, with more than 5 million hotspots, and our new agreement with Plymouth City Council brings this valued service to an even bigger audience, offering even greater levels of service for people enjoying a day out.”
The project will link with the Plymouth Get IT Together project which helps people access the internet. They will be able to access public Wi-Fi and access the internet via the City’s libraries and other public internet access points.
Source: Plymouth City Council