Rolling out Wi-Fi in public areas of a city has advantages, but there are question marks over how useful it will be for digital inclusion, particularly as there are so many places with free Wi-Fi already, from libraries to coffee shops and train stations.
Birmingham who started off the super-connected city buzz with talk of a fibre neighbourhood is still pushing ahead with the Wi-Fi elements of its original project, with Victoria Square, New Street, Moor Street, High Street, St Philip's Cathedral and the new library all earmarked for the service.
The key indicator for why the councils are still pushing this forward is that these contracts have the potential to generate revenue via allowing provider to make use of street furniture and the ability for council staff to use the network for uploading data when out in the streets. The two firms we suspect that will be in the running are Virgin Media and Arqiva who both have experience in this field.
One obstacle for free Wi-Fi networks is ensuring that people do not set-up rogue hot-spots to grab peoples data, in short how do you know that a hot-spot is really who it claims to be.
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