updated 04:45 pm EST, Tue November 17, 2009
Swindon, UK residents to get free Wi-Fi access
Swindon Borough Council is planning on offering free Wi-Fi to the entire population of its town by April of next year, says a Tuesday report. The UK town's 186,000 residents will not have to pay any connection charges or subscription fees for the service, due to be called Signal. The project will cost the equivalent of about $1.68 million and is run by newly formed Digital City UK Ltd, 35 percent of which is owned by Swindon's city council.
The free service will offer speeds up to 20Mbps, though paid tiers will be offered which will bump these speeds in exchange for a fee that is said to be significantly less than those offered by conventional broadband providers.
To blanket the city with a Wi-Fi signal, the service will include some 1,400 secure access points. Signal will also allow for free Internet-based phone calls and remote medical consultations. Anti-virus software and often accessed web-based services from Microsoft and Google will be available on the city network as well.
If successful and popular, Digital City UK hopes to expand the Signal service to other UK cities.