BT To Run Free Cardiff Wi-Fi Network And Boost Mobile Infrastructure

BT launches free Cardiff Wi-Fi network and will use city street furniture to boost 3G and 4G coverage as part of superconnected cities vision

BT has been chosen by Cardiff Council to construct and operate a public Wi-Fi network in the city centre as part of the government’s diluted superconnected cities vision.

The network will initially cover the busiest areas of the city, connecting Queen Street, The Hayes, the High Street and St Mary Street, with additional hotspots along Gorsedd Gardens Road covering the area around City Hall, before extending to Cardiff Bay at the beginning of 2014.

Eventually, the Wi-Fi service will be available to 1.4 million residents, hundreds of businesses and 19 million visitors.

Free Cardiff Wi-Fi

Cardiff Bay“These wireless technologies will add to the ongoing investment in fibre broadband that BT is making across Cardiff and give the city a real competitive edge when it comes to attracting new visitors and businesses,” said cabinet member for finance and economic development at Cardiff Council, Russell Goodway. “This will also significantly improve the speed, reach, strength and reliability of 3G and 4G mobile services offered to mobile and smart device users.”

Initially, the network will be free for everyone, but even if Cardiff Council does eventually charge for its use, BT Broadband customers will continue to be able to use the service without charge.

BT will operate the service for ten years, and in exchange for its investment, it has also been awarded exclusive access to the city’s street furniture, such as lampposts, to deploy mobile infrastructure that can be leased to operators looking to boost coverage in urban areas.

“We’re extremely proud to be helping Cardiff move to the very forefront of digital connectivity,” explained Steve Haines, managing director of strategic & business development at BT Wholesale. “BT has a proven track record of delivering large-scale, reliable communication services, and the fact Cardiff City Council trusts us to deliver a great service for the city centre is another fantastic endorsement for our people and their expertise.”

Superconnected cities

The network has been built as part of the superconnected cities project, which initially sought to allocate £150 million in funding to 22 local authorities to improve their digital infrastructure.

These cities were London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton, Hove, Cambridge, Coventry, Derby, Leeds, Oxford, Portsmouth, Salford, York, Newcastle, Manchester, Newport, Aberdeen, Perth and Londonderry.

However both BT and Virgin Media raised concerns about state-funded fibre networks being built in a number of cities, resulting in the original vision being reduced to a voucher scheme.

Both Edinburgh and Birmingham’s plans to install fibre were scuppered by the change in focus, although Virgin Media has since partnered with the Midlands city to roll out a public Wi-Fi network.

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