Thursday, 23 February 2012

Wifi on the Meadows

The prospect of wifi being available to users on the Meadows has moved closer with a UK Government allocation of money to ensure Edinburgh is globally competitive in its connectivity.

£100m has been allocated for 10 UK cities with the four capital cities, including Edinburgh, specifically targetted for the grant.  Proposals have recently been submitted by Edinburgh Council for its share in the fund, which is expected to be between £7m and £11m, which would see a publicly available wifi throughout the centre of the city and certain parks.

I have seen the proposal which includes the Meadows amongst much of the New Town and central area of the city. It would see routes through the park (and the areas adjacent to them) enabled for free public wifi usage.

The international reputation of Edinburgh is expected to benefit, especially when, during the six weeks of the Festival period alone, the population doubles to 1 million (and that doubling is 'refreshed' three times).  In total Edinburgh attracts well over 3.5m visitors per year.

Recently, Westminster & Chelsea, and Kensington Boroughs in London have negotiated a commercial deal with O2 to supply public connectivity.  The Edinburgh proposal would include the UK government grant for the technical infrastructure and provide the possibility of further partnerships with communications companies to extend coverage, including 3G and 4G facilities.

Edinburgh has one of the best average maximum broadband speeds in the UK, though its mobile phone (3G) coverage is amongst the poorest of cities in the UK.

George Osbourne's UK budget on 21st March is expected to see the announcement of the precise allocation for Edinburgh, with the project then to follow over three years to March 2015.

Update 23.2.12:  The UK Government fund is known as the Urban Broadband Fund.

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