Free Wi-fi now live in the Plymouth City Centre

The first phase of a partnership between BT and Plymouth City Council to make free wi-fi widely available across the city has just been successfully completed.

The first BT Wi-fi hotspots have just gone ‘live’ in the city centre at the Sundial, at Frankfort Gate near the South entrance to City Market and on the Hoe near the Holiday Inn – in time for visitors coming to Plymouth over the coming weeks for Christmas shopping. They will be followed by many more Plymouth hotspots being rolled out in 2015.

Visitors and residents will be able to get online while ‘on the go’ through their smart phones, tablets and laptops as part of Plymouth’s plans to get better connected.

Council Leader Tudor Evans said: I am delighted to be able to sign off another Council pledge by completing the first phase of Plymouth’s free Wi-fi network. Information needs to be instant. People’s expectations of how they get it and stay in touch has changed massively over the last few years. We need to keep ahead, to give people the information they want, the way they want it.”

It means that people within range of the sites will be able to tap into free BT Wi-fi following a simple one-off log in.

People will then be taken automatically to a landing page which will have links to key useful sites for visitors, residents and businesses.

 This first stage will enable engineers to road-test the system ahead of a wider roll out in the city centre and along the waterfront early in 2015.

Councillor Evans said: “Visitors will arrive in the city, click onto the page and see what’s on and where to go. This is also a great way of keeping our residents more in the loop.

 “I am conscious that there are large numbers of our residents who don’t use computers, but may use smart phones and tablets. This will encourage the more reluctant users to become more familiar with digital technology which, in turn is good for ICT skills. It is after all free.”

Paul Coles, BT South West regional manager, said: “Plymouth has already played a  leading role in the roll-out of high speed fibre optic broadband. Now we are seeing a further important step forward as BT and the city council work together to deliver free high speed wi-fi, which will make the city become even better connected. In a rapidly changing world, it has never been more important for people to have good quality on-line communications whether they are at work, accessing important council services or simply out and about with friends. Britain’s ocean city is a leader.”

Erik Raphael, director of BT Wi-fi and Devices, said: “The roll-out of free public wi-fi in the centre of Plymouth is great news for the South West, and for BT’s broadband customers. BT Wi-fi provide the largest wi-fi network in the UK, with more than 5 million hotspots, and our new partnership with Plymouth brings this valued service to an even bigger audience.”

Doug Fletcher, Chair of Plymouth City Centre Company, said: “This is an exciting project for our city centre, one which we welcome with open arms. It enables us to give something extra back to our visitors – something that isn’t going to cost them anything to use. The first stage of this launch covers the West End of the city which I hope will encourage more people to these areas.

 The project will make it easier for the Council to communicate directly with residents. As the network grows, so does the potential for more local residents to make greater use of council services.