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Free Brighton BT Wi-Fi Network Could Bring Better 4G

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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BT will build 40 Wi-Fi access points in Brighton and Hove in exchange for permission to deploy mobile infrastructure on street furniture

Brighton will become the latest UK city to get a free Wi-Fi network from BT in exchange for access to street furniture that could boost 4G coverage in the area.

A deal between Brighton & Hove Council and BT will see 40 hotspots available, 30 of which are live now. The remaining ten will go online in time for the summer, providing residents, businesses and tourists with access to free wireless.

“The scheme will mean free and unlimited Wi-Fi for everyone when they’re out and about in the city centre within range of one of the new hubs,” said Councillor Caroline Penn, who leads the city’s ICT efforts. “This builds on other work the council is doing to encourage more people to get online, including free Wi-Fi in public buildings and computer courses and training sessions in our libraries.”

Brighton Wi-Fi

Amex Stadium Brighton 2The network will cover a “large proportion” of the city centre, the seafront and parts of Hove.

BT will manage the network for ten years and the hotspots will be integrated with the company’s nationwide network of five million access points. The network will not cost the council a penny and in exchange, BT will be able to build mobile infrastructure on lampposts and other council-owned structures.

Infrastructure, such as small cells, could be sold to other mobile operators on a wholesale basis, boosting capacity in the town centre. BT, of course now has its own mobile operator in the form of EE.

Recent research from OpenSignal suggested that just mobile users in the UK can receive a 4G signal just 53 percent of the time, while operator Arqiva has said the UK is a difficult place to build networks because of the difficulty in deploying infrastructure.

“The project makes Brighton & Hove the first city centre in the South East to have a free BT Wi-Fi network and will make a big contribution to the connectivity of the city,” said Erik Raphael, director for BT Wi-Fi and BT devices. “The project makes Brighton & Hove the first city centre in the South East to have a free BT Wi-Fi network and will make a big contribution to the connectivity of the city.”

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