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Technology / Networks

6 UK cities with free wi-fi networks

In a world where connectivity is highly prised by citizens and tourists, a number of cities have rolled out wi-fi to city centres and public spaces to serve their needs.

Here are some of the UK cities that have launched free networks.


1. Newcastle

The partnership between Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council will see BT providing an outdoor wi-fi service in pedestrian routes across both areas.

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The service is an extension of the wi-fi that launched in public buildings across Newcastle such as the Civic Centre and council customer service centres as well as libraries and museums.

The service is being deployed using a mix of BT telephone kiosks, lampposts and CCTV columns.

Under the fully managed service contract, BT will install and operate the service and provide a 24/7 support desk for users via a free 0800 telephone number.

Outlining the income that can be derived from free wi-fi, the concession contract with BT is for 10 years with the councils paying nothing. In fact, they will receive an initial upfront fee and annual rent from BT for the use of street furniture.

Revenue will be shared with BT.


2. London

The Cloud provides free, unlimited wi-fi across most of London’s Square Mile’s outdoor areas.

The Cloud’s FastConnect app can be downloaded by smartphone and tablet users to speed up access.

The network was first launched in 2006, providing an outdoor coverage across the City of London, installed on street furniture such as street lighting poles and CCTV masts.

The City of London website claims that it is the largest gigabit WiFi network in Europe.

The project aims to ensure that the City of London “remains ahead of the game, as the world’s leading global financial and business centre.”


3. Manchester

Manchester provides public wi-fi networks across the city centre, in Chorlton, Didsbury, Withington Village and Oxford Road.

The on-street network is called _FreebeeMcr, while the network in many public buildings is called _BusybeeMcr.

The outdoor network gives users 30 minutes of free surfing, with £3 charged for the rest of the day. Users register the first time they use it and then can simply sign in each time they need to for their free 30 minutes.

_FreebeeMcr also provides completely free, unlimited access to the website of the Manchester City Council, the Manchester  Evening News, Transport for Greater Manchester and Visit Manchester.

_BusybeeMcr is free all day.


4. Edinburgh

In May 2016, Edinburgh launched free wi-fi across the city centre in a 10-year contract with intechnology WiFi.

Residents will get free connectivity, funded by the UK Government part of the SuperConected Cities programme, which saw more than £5m awarded to Edinburgh.

intechnologyWiFi is installing and operating the WiFi network without charge to the council. It will have exclusive use of the council’s street furniture and properties.

The network will be rolled out on a phased basis over summer and autumn 2016.

The network is part of the council’s plan to grow the economy and boost tourism.


5. Belfast

In 2014, Belfast introduced a free network as part of the Super Connected Belfast scheme. Belfast was one of 16 cities taking part in the initiative, which takes in more than 1000 public buildings across the UK.

The service is available at 104 hotspots across the city, including visitor attractions, community and leisure centres and other public buildings.

The scheme uses the public buildings of Belfast.

It is part of the Belfast City Council’s wider £150m Investment Programme.


6. Cardiff

Like the Manchester network, Cardiff’s network is divided into a network for buildings, CardiffFreeWiFi and a network for streets (CardiffStreetWiFi).

The free network is available in libraries, leisure centres, community centres, civic buildings and amenities, youth centres, visitor centres and theatres in the city.

It is essentially available where there is no charge for entry.

The street network is available in high footfall areas such as the city centre, Cardiff Bay, Central Station and Westgate Street.

Users must register to get access to the service.
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