The first phase of Swindon’s free public wireless internet has been switched on in the north of the town.
Swindon Borough Council plans for all 186,000 citizens to have blanket “wi-fi mesh” coverage by April 2010.
The equipment, mounted on 21 lampposts in the Highworth area, will allow people to connect to the internet via laptops or portable devices.
Under the scheme basic line rental will be free and there will be no connection charge, say council officials.
Subscribers to the service – to be called Signal – will have limited access but could pay for 20mb upgrades.
The £1m project will be run by Digital City UK Ltd, in which Swindon Borough Council has a 35% share.
Digital City chief executive Rikki Hunt said: ” People have done free wi-fi before, it happened in Norwich in 2006 as a test period.
“What we’re doing is covering the whole borough, that’s what unique, so it’s not just free access in your home, you can actually move around the borough and still be connected.”
Some 1,400 secure access points are to be fitted around Swindon, similar to those used in homes but with a much higher performance, it is claimed.
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further details about Signal are available on their website: http://www.getsignal.co.uk/