Edinburgh Council has agreed to a 10-year concession contract with intechnologyWiFi to bring free high-speed WiFi and improved mobile coverage to the Scottish capital’s city centre.
Plans for installation are being finalised, with the WiFi network set to be phased in over the summer and autumn of 2016.
The free WiFi will be funded by the UK Government as part of its SuperConected Cities programme under which more than £5 million was awarded to Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Council said the WiFi network is central to its plans to grow the city’s economy and encouraging residents and visitors to stay longer and increase their spend.
Users of the new service will also benefit from savings to their mobile data plans by being able to access the internet at no cost and without restrictions on time.
The announcement comes as new online YouGov research has revealed that 43% of Britons are frustrated by the lack of free, public WiFi networks available across the UK, while 24% would be more likely to stay longer in a town or city centre with access to free WiFi.
“To this end, the WiFi network could drive greater footfall in Edinburgh’s city centre, supporting the high street and local economy, while making it easier for tourists to access city information online,” said the council.
“intechnologyWiFi is installing and operating the WiFi network at no cost to the council, and has been granted exclusive use of the council’s street furniture and properties to locate the state-of-the-art equipment required to provide seamless, easy-to-access internet coverage to users – distinct from the traditional hotspot model, which usually provides connectivity in a very small or specific area.”
Councillor Frank Ross, Edinburgh’s Digital Champion, said: “This is great news as everyone will be able to get free access to the latest information on their favourite apps and websites while they are out and about.
“It will be particularly beneficial for the millions of residents and visitors who enjoy our festivals each year.
“This project is central to the council’s plans for growing the city economy, and encouraging residents and visitors to stay longer and increase their spend.”
Natalie Duffield, CEO, intechnologyWiFi, said: “The awarding of the contract represents a bold step forward for Edinburgh in meeting the demands of its residents and visitors for ‘always on’ connectivity.
“In providing seamless, 24/7 internet connectivity to residents and visitors out and about, our network solution will make it second-nature for people in the city to live more connected lives, including accessing live news as it breaks, finding out ‘what’s on’ in real-time, or booking a meal or a bed for the night using the latest offers and promotions available.”
The launch of the WiFi network is the final project of the council’s Connected Capital Programme, which aims to make Edinburgh one of the best-connected cities in Britain.
Residents and visitors already benefit from free WiFi on all trams and Lothian Buses, as well as in just under 70 key public buildings.
Edinburgh is one of 22 cities across the UK that has benefitted from the UK Government’s £150 million Super Connected Cities Programme, managed by Broadband Delivery UK.