York is seeking to become the best-connected city in the UK, with an expansive WiFi hotspot rollout in areas reaching far beyond typical city-centre infrastructure, despite still waiting for the 4G rollout to reach its borders.
The City of York Council (CYC) told V3 its most recent expansions into outdoor areas, which include an open-air theatre and a skate park, will also improve shopper and tourist footfall.
"As a council, we see WiFi as just another utility like water and fixed broadband," explained CYC head of ICT Roy Grant. "With an outdoor focus, this deployment evolved to encompass a city-centre WiFi solution that would light up key hotspots in the city centre, with a view to joining them together to provide complete WiFi coverage across as much of the city as possible."
The latest expansion includes equipment supplied by Ruckus Wireless, which brings scalable connectivity to the network. "One of our key requirements was for scalability so that we can avoid having to reinvest in core infrastructure in the future," said Grant.
"We also wanted to provide an easy way for residents, visitors and businesses to access the council's wide range of information services. Our ambition is to be the best-connected city in the UK by the end of 2015."
The rollout will also stave off the wait for 4G in York, which is yet to arrive in the northeastern city. Grant explained: "The presence of the WiFi is important as we're a second-tier city; we're always on the second or third list when it comes to 3G or 4G rollouts."
York already houses its own dark fibre network run by CityFibre that it wants to use to encourage companies such as EE, O2 and Vodafone to bring their 4G networks to the city. "We're pressing CityFibre to press the mobile operators to make 4G a priority," said Grant.
York is also part of the government's Super-Connected Cities programme, having won £2.7m in funding earlier this year for projects including digital education, WiFi and large television screens in the city centre.
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