Thursday, November 20, 2014

Continuing to campaign for free public wi-fi for Dundee

A recent government announcement that 1000 buildings in UK cities are to get free public wi-fi, again highlighted to me the need for Dundee to have free public wi-fi in the City Centre.

As residents are aware, earlier this year, I mentioned the need for Dundee to progress this issue and - as I said at the time - many cities are discovering free wi-fi is a good way to attract more visitors.   Already local businesses from coffee shops, hotels and restaurants, churches and bars are among the locations discovering the value of offering free wireless but a city centre wide wi-fi facility would be a boon for our city.

I have had an update from the City Council's Head of Information Technology as follows :

"There has been no recent funding bid that we have lost out on.    Edinburgh won a UK DCMS Urban Broadband fund bid for large cities in 2011. Perth and Aberdeen won a similar UK DCMS Urban Broadband fund bid for medium cities in 2012. Dundee bid in 2012 and lost out. The main reason for the fund was to distribute monies to assist in improving fixed broadband provision in cities.

Cities also had to commit to providing some form of wifi provision as part of the bid.

This announcement is basically counting up the number of buildings that will have in-building wifi provided.   Only a very small part of the £150m is being spent on wifi. The money is mainly being paid (via Local Authorities) to improve broadband (in the ground) capacity for areas of cities that have poor coverage. 

We were unsuccessful because we actually have very few areas of poor fixed broadband capacity. 

It should be stressed that in Dundee we already have extensive wifi provision in our Libraries, community centres and some civic buildings. This is currently being enhanced."

I have had an assurance, however, that the City Council is working with the Scottish Cities Alliance to explore ways of potentially collaborating with cities of a similar size to increase the city's chances of attracting providers to deliver a free-wifi offering for Dundee City Centre.