Free city WiFi takes a step nearer

GLASGOW has taken a step nearer to becoming the first Scottish city to offer free WiFi.

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Councillors today approved a deal with British Telecom which will use lamp posts, bus stops and other street furniture to fit technology boxes.

The telecommunications giant will fund the work and up to 80 WiFi access points will be installed across the city city and the East End where Commonwealth Games venues are located including the Athletes Village.

Busy transport hubs such as rail and bus stations will also be included in the first phase of work. Free internet access is expected to kick in around May just weeks before the curtain rises on the Games. The rest of the city will have access within three years.

Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "Delivering a free Wifi network is a key priority of the council and we are delighted to award the urban wireless supplier concession to BT.

"This is a historic day, a first for any Scottish city, and it is great to see Glasgow living up to its innovative tradition. Glaswegians and our visitors will soon be able to access multimedia information on the city, its events, businesses and services on their devices.

"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."

However, council chiefs insist there will only be free 24-hour access to the network for the first six months. Users of smartphones and tablets will then be allowed free access for 30 minutes per day per device before being charged.

It's not known what the fees will be but some sites will remain permanently free including the city council's own website. Today's deal is part of the council's so called Digital Glasgow roadmap which aims to promote Glasgow as a world leading digital city by 2017 to help boost economic and social regeneration.

The award will see BT delivery a number of wireless technologies. The telecommunications giant will use small cell technology to improve WiFi and mobile phone coverage throughout the city including 3G and 4G.

The second WiFi phase will be rolled out in the New Year before the entire network is set up and completed by the end of 2017. Council owned street furniture such as lamp posts and bus stop will be leased out to BT as well as council buildings to enable the creation of a Glasgow-wide network of WiFi access points.

gordon.thomson@eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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