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Council launches free Wi Fi trial

Published Friday, 11th November 2011

York's iconic city centre will be turned into a free wi-fi zone as a boost to shoppers, visitors and city centre businesses next week (Monday 14 November).

York's iconic city centre will be turned into a free wi-fi zone as a boost to shoppers, visitors and city centre businesses next week (Monday 14 November).

The free wi fi trial will cover St Helen's Square and Coney Street, providing a free wireless connection open to laptops, smart phones or any other internet-enabled devices in the area.

The wi fi will be tested out by Councillor James Alexander, Labour Leader of City of York Council, Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Councillor Julie Gunnell, Cabinet member for Corporate Services.

The ambitious initiative - one of the first of its type in the country - is part of the council's Reinvigorate York and Digital York initiatives which aim to improve and enhance the quality of the city's public spaces and York's digital and IT services, respectively.

Working with partners, the free pilot will improve the city centre facilities for visitors, businesses and local people. Local businesses will be consulted on their views and experiences of the trial before a decision is taken whether to extend the zone across the area within the city walls.

A number of wireless access points have been strategically and discreetly located along Coney Street and in St Helens Square. Each of the units connects into the existing city-wide fibre council network using a 5Ghz wireless uplink.

Public access is around 2.4Ghz, providing the same level of internet access as that at York Explore Library Learning Centre.

Councillor James Alexander, Labour Leader of City of York Council, said: "This is an exciting, innovative and dynamic proposal that positions York as one of only a handful of town and cities in the country offering free Wi Fi.

"Internet access is now an essential part of our everyday working and private lives. Some cities on the continent provide free wi-fi access but very few do in the UK. The Digital York scheme is part of a step change in the ambition we have for the city and we hope that the initial trial will be successful and provide a real boost to local businesses, visitors and shoppers."

Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: "Broadband is an increasingly important part of our national infrastructure with huge potential economic and social benefits. This free wifi trial will enable the people of York to see the benefits of wider access and help put York at the forefront of the digital revolution."

To access the free service, all people need to do is select the service from the list hat should appear on their wi fi enabled device. It will provide a splash screen providing usage details and warnings etc. Users need to click on 'I accept' and will then be connected to the free service.