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Norwich city centre to get free wi-fi?

PUBLISHED: 09:01 13 June 2014 | UPDATED: 17:04 16 June 2014

Stefan Gurney

Stefan Gurney

Archant Norfolk Copyright

Norwich shoppers and tourists could be able to surf the web for free by Christmas under plans to bring wi-fi to the city centre.

Plans are being drawn up to allow everyone in the Business Improvement District (BID) – from Chapelfield Gardens to Norwich Castle and including St Andrew’s Street and Surrey Street – to be able to get on to the internet without a charge.

Stefan Gurney, executive director of Norwich BID, which is behind the plans, said it would put Norwich at the forefront of technology and would provide real value for the business community. Businesses in Norwich voted in 2012 to set up the new partnership to raise £3m to spend on improving the city. “I think people have an expectation that they will go to a city and have that provision. BID saw it as one of the key things it could deliver for Norwich city centre,” said Mr Gurney.

The Norwich BID has drawn up a shortlist of national companies and local providers which could deliver the project, and it is now working through the detail.

Other cities nationally, among them Edinburgh and Manchester, have been able to put in free wi-fi under the government’s super-connected cities programme.

But Norwich did not qualify for the government cash because of its size.

Mr Gurney said: “Norwich BID has decided we are keen to have that and not wait for it to come into the city. We want to try and deliver it ourselves.”

He said that technology was the “way forward” for the high street, and said the free wi-fi would allow more use of tap and go technology and near field technology, where people can pick up data on their phones by scanning a code.

It is not the first time Norwich has had a free wi-fi network.

A two-year pilot, Norfolk Open Link, funded by the East of England Development Agency ran from 2006 to 2008.

Mr Gurney said that he hoped the infrastructure would be in place for the pre-Christmas period, but it was dependent on the company installing the equipment in time.

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  • Lets just hope the speed of the internet is actually faster than a 28k Modem which is how the trial several years ago seemed to be. Mind you that is if you could even connect in the first place

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    che bramley

    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • err, we already had free wifi but they turned it off, as the report says. Surely the infrastructure is still in place?

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    Friday, June 13, 2014

  • Looking forward to this especially as mobile phone reception in norwich and norfolk is so poor, as is broadband reliability. ..For many networks. Look forward to the day that rural areas get better service

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    Friday, June 13, 2014

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