Bristol Council has partnered with network provider Cityspace to build a city-wide wireless broadband network to expand the network the company originally deployed as a pilot in 2004.
The extension will enlarge the existing network to cover business areas, transport routes and several disadvantaged communities, making the network the largest of its kind in the UK when completed.
The wider network will support plans by the council and its partners in Connecting Bristol to deliver wider social and economic change across the city. It will also boost Bristol's bid to win the national Digital Challenge, for which it is one of 10 finalists.
The existing 3km network has proved successful in its aim to provide the community of Bristol with free access to council information and the internet and attracts over 15,000 users a month.
The new extension will continue to provide free broadband internet access to the public as well as paid-for services to business.
"A high quality, city-wide Wi-Fi network is critical to the economic success of the city and its wider city region," said Councillor Barbara Janke, leader of Bristol City Council.
"It can help us improve council services, enable local businesses to become even more competitive and remove some of the obstacles that stop people in disadvantaged communities accessing the information and services they need.
"This new extension to our existing city centre network will be built on a solid and proven framework and can help us develop real, valuable applications that will make a difference to the people of Bristol."
The network is made up of four radio nodes mounted on streetlights or buildings. The four-radio architecture allows Cityspace to create a blanket of 802.11 b/g 56Mbps access across the city with relatively few fixed points.
"It's a real vote of confidence to be chosen as preferred partner by Bristol to deliver this showcase network, based on the success of our pilot," said Marc Meyohas, CEO, Cityspace.
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