Plan for free public Wi-Fi to be rolled-out across the Highlands
Members are to be asked to approve proposals to expand the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal funded free open public Wi-Fi system to 14 towns across Highland.
Town centres recommended for the free Wi-Fi programme are Alness, Aviemore, Dingwall, Dornoch, Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus, Fort William, Invergordon, Nairn, Portree, Tain, Thurso, Ullapool and Wick.
A report will go to the Highland Council’s Places Committee on 16 August detailing the plans for approval.
The City Wi-Fi project, led by the Council and funded by the Inverness and Highlands City Region Deal, aims to create a free open public Wi-Fi system across the Highlands for visitors and residents. By being available 24/7, 365 days per year, it aims to stimulate economic growth and increase digital inclusion.
Increasingly such digital connectivity is seen as essential if the Highlands are to be innovative and keep their competitive place in the tourism market. The project also offers the opportunity to gather data about local users and tourist activity, and the creation of a wireless infrastructure in a town centre allows other innovative technology, such as smart traffic management technology to be utilised.
The first phase of the Inverness City Wi-Fi project, branded Ness Wi-Fi, is providing fast internet coverage in a pilot area including the Victorian Market, Falcon Square and surrounding streets. The system is providing reliable fast internet usage to users, whilst being family friendly and content filtered with average daily user number of between 300 – 500 users. Users also have language choices when logging into the system (with Gaelic coming on-line).
Phase 2 of the project is currently being installed to roll out the coverage across the city centre and along the river to Eden Court, the Northern Meeting Park and Ardross Street Coach Drop off.
Fourteen other towns have now been identified for funding for free Wi-Fi on the basis of the anticipated benefits to tourism and local economy.
Councillor Allan Henderson, Chair of the Places Committee said: “It has always been an ambition since the start of the City Wi-Fi project to extend free Wi-Fi across Highland. I am sure that people across the Highlands will whole-heartedly welcome this plan which is designed to bring a fantastic boost to these areas and help to regenerate town centres.”