Norwich has become the UK’s largest hotspot, providing free broadband access to businesses and consumers throughout the city.
Norwich is the first step in Norfolk County Council’s £1.1m Norfolk OpenLink project, which kicked off with free Internet in Norwich on 2 August.
The hotspot covers 30km2 in the city, with corridors of access leading from the centre out to venues such as the University of East Anglia. Over the next few months a further 28 hotspots throughout south Norfolk will be added to the network.
The system was designed and implemented by public sector managed services business, Synetrix and Telabria Networks provided over 200 mSystem APM-300 mesh networking devices to create the backbone of the project.
Jim Baker, managing director at Telabria Networks, commented on the project: “The key driver for this is to provide public sector workers with a wireless broadband network that they can log into for connectivity speeds of up to 1MBps. The second driver for the network is to provide a level of free broadband connectivity for everyone else in the hotspot area, for speeds of 256kbps. This is like a low-end broadband service, so workers inside and outside can connect to their corporate virtual private networks.”
Businesses are welcome to run all their data communications off the service for free, but the slower data rate for all except public sector employees may not be enough for many, Baker stated.
However, he added: “The option to pay for higher speeds, as happens in many commercially made metropolitan networks in the US, may come to Norwich in the future. Norwich is really setting the pace for the rest of the UK.”