Glasgow City Council awarded the contract to BT as part of its Urban Wireless programme, announced in January 2014. It aims to make Glasgow a world-leading digital city by 2017.
BT will roll out between 50 and 80 wireless access points across high footfall areas and transport hubs in the city centre and East End. It aims to complete the project in time for the Commonwealth Games, which take place in Glasgow during July and August 2014.
“This is a historic day, a first for any Scottish city, and it is great to see Glasgow living up to its innovative tradition,” said Councillor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council.
“Glaswegians and our visitors will soon be able to access multimedia information on the city, its events, businesses and services on their devices.”
The roll-out is being paid for on a concession model, where the council rents its street furniture to a telecoms provider exclusively, enabling them to be the only provider of Wi-Fi in that area. This means the council doesn’t have to make any investment and the provider – in this case BT – is responsible for the upkeep of the network.
The Wi-Fi won’t remain free forever, with Glasgow City Council only promising free 24-hour access to the network for the first six months. After this, users will be allowed free access for 30 minutes per day per handset. However, access to some key websites – such as the Glasgow City Council homepage – will remain free to access anytime.
Once this part of the network is complete, BT will embark on extending it to the rest of the city in early 2015.
Matheson added: “This network will play a key role in Glasgow's transition to becoming a digitally connected, smart city, with all the economic and social benefits that brings."