UK's first free public Wi-Fi to cover Swindon

Swindon is to become the UK's first town to offer free public Wi-Fi, with Swindon Borough Council planning to have all 186,000 local citizens covered by April 2010. Council officials have stated that access will be free, although speed upgrades will also be offered for a fee.

The service which will be called "Signal" will offer free, but limited access, with upgrades to 20Mb available for purchase. Digital City UK, the people behind the £1m project, say that upgrade fees will be "significantly less" than current broadband suppliers.

While other UK towns and cities have trialled free Wi-Fi access schemes, this will be the first time a whole town is going to be covered by free, council-backed access. Around 1,400 secure access points will be fitted throughout Swindon to provide the free wireless Internet access.

"This is a truly ground-breaking partnership which will have real benefits for everyone living in Swindon," said Swindon Borough Council leader, Rod Bluh.

"Not only will residents in the borough be able to access the internet for free, the council and its partners will be able to use the technology to provide cutting edge services to the areas or individuals who need them."

According to the BBC, the service will also provide the local council with additional funding. Swindon Borough Council has a 35% share in Digital City UK.

Work will begin on the so-called "Swindon mesh" in December, with a full roll-out expected in April 2010. If successful the scheme could be expanded to other towns and cities across the UK.

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