Government offers free Wi-Fi in 1,000 public buildings

DCMS plans to make free Wi-Fi hotspots available in 1,000 public buildings as part of its Super-Connected Cities programme

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced plans to provide free public Wi-Fi hotspots in more than 1,000 public buildings across the UK as part of its Super-Connected Cities programme.

The government’s £150m Super-Connected Cities programme, managed by DCMS as part of Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), has already seen investment in broadband voucher programmes in 22 UK cities to help make them more attractive places to live, visit and conduct business in.

The next phase of Super-Connected Cities will see free Wi-Fi networks deployed at libraries, adult education facilities, civic centres, bus stations, youth clubs and many other public facilities.

Some of the more notable buildings to be included in the scheme will include the Brighton Pavilion, the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh and the British Museum in London.

The scheme has been granted a total of £30m from the £150m funding pot.

All buildings named will be live by March 2015, said DCMS, which hopes the scheme will help ensure Britain’s cities can cope with growing connectivity demands made by the public.

“The digital landscape of the UK is undergoing a period of tremendous improvement and is all part of the Government’s long-term economic plan. For business, visitors and the UK public, accessing Wi-Fi in our cities is absolutely vital,” said digital economy minister Ed Vaizey.

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“I’m delighted this government scheme is on track. These free hotspots will be instrumental in making UK cities even more attractive as places to not only do business, but to visit as well.”

DCMS said the list of buildings set to receive the service might change in the coming months depending on factors such as planning permission.

The cities involved in the scheme are Aberdeen, Belfast, Brighton & Hove, Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Derby, Derry, Edinburgh, Leeds/Bradford, London, Manchester, Oxford, Perth, Portsmouth and Salford.

However, other cities on the Super-Connected Cities programme, including Bristol, Coventry, Newcastle, Newport and York, have not been named at this stage of the roll-out.

A DCMS spokesperson confirmed that two of these cities, Bristol and Coventry, had elected to invest their portion of the funding available for Wi-Fi in broadband vouchers instead, because they have good enough coverage commercially and did not need state aid.

York, which also has a large commercial network supplied by Ruckus Wireless, will be included on the scheme at a future date, and is currently in the process of finalising which locations will receive Wi-Fi.

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