Visitors and residents in York can now enjoy free unlimited WiFi whilst out and about in the city centre. Phase One of the solution, which was provided by North, was perfectly timed for the arrival of the Tour De France.
The Tour De France passed through York on Sunday 6th July, when spectators came out in their thousands to cheer on the cyclists. Hundreds of people logged in to the WiFi system over the course of the day and it was deemed a great success.
The WiFi solution was installed across the city centre after a pilot launch in Coney Street and St Helens Square received over 1 million hits in the first three months of operation. The project has been funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), helping to create York’s status as one of 22 Super Connected Cities. Businesses in York will also benefit from superfast broadband as part of the DCMS voucher scheme, which enables SME’s to claim up to £3000 towards their connection fee.
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “This fantastic news marks a remarkable leap forward for connectivity in York and will benefit residents and visitors enormously. We understand that fast and reliable access to the web is now a necessity, not a luxury, and our Super Connected Cities programme was designed to deliver projects just like this. This scheme, together with the vouchers we’ve made available for York businesses to help cover the cost of superfast broadband access, will be a strong driver of growth and a welcome boost to the local economy.”
Due to York’s historic nature and the need to conform to English Heritage guidelines, the WiFi solution had to be an unobtrusive as possible. This was achieved by installing ZoneFlex wireless mesh access points to existing street furniture like lamp posts. The award-winning access points from Ruckus Wireless were selected by North because they deliver seamless WiFi coverage even in the most challenging locations.
North are also working with Purple WiFi to provide a user portal that allows internet access for users by authentication through a social media account. Form-based access is also available for users without social media.
Mark Lowe, Strategic Relationship Director, North explained “We are delighted to be launching this exciting service within York, we have a proven ability in wireless solutions and working closely with our partners, Ruckus and Purple WiFi we will be offering a quality and easy to use WiFi service. Local businesses will also be able to benefit from commercial opportunities advertising on the Wi-Fi service – a chance to target the 7 million visitors to York each year”.
Cllr Alexander, leader of City of York Council said: “This unique combination of city centre and strategic transport free WiFi is a huge step forward in our ambitious digital plan to be one of the best connected cities in Europe by 2015. Having access to free WiFi is essential for a thriving business community in today’s marketplace. The network will also prove an invaluable resource in supporting the council’s work to further understand and monitor how the city centre is used in order for the city to prosper and grow”.
The next phase of the WiFi is set to commence over the coming months, with the final phase completing in November 2015.