Swindon gets free wireless


There's now yet one more reason to love living in Swindon, as the council gets set to roll out free wireless internet up to 20Mbps to all its citizens.

Working with aQovia to create the Digital City UK partnership, Swindon Borough Council has seen the installation of a wireless WPA mesh system with 1,400 access points across the whole area.

The first phase of the network goes live in December, and should be fully rolled out by the end of April, the council said.

Rod Bluh, Swindon Borough Council leader, called the project "groundbreaking."

"Not only will residents in the Borough be able to access the internet for free, the Council and its partners will be able to use the technology to provide cutting edge services to the areas or individuals who need them," he said in a statement.

Residents will be able to access the internet for free and be given free line rental, although use will be limited. While the council said it is offering 20Mbps speeds, it admits users might not get such a strong signal and there may be some blackspots.

Making cash from free wireless

Users can upgrade as well as using the system on a pay-as-you-go basis.

The Digital City UK group expects the network to make a profit, noted Mustafa Arif, director of aQovia.

"Digital City's business model is built around subsidising free access with revenues from business and community services that are delivered over our wireless network," he said in a statement.

Swindon owns a 35 per cent share in the Digital City UK public/private partnership, which is looking to roll out similar systems elsewhere.

Digital Britain, so what?

The scheme is in stark contrast to the UK government's Digital Britain plans, which looks to get 2Mbps out to everyone over landlines in the next two years.

Swindon Council's Rikki Hunt added: "This is a fantastic opportunity for the whole of Swindon creating total social inclusion through our free service and, while others talk, Swindon is delivering a Digital City which will benefit both the public and business communities."