Community Wi-Fi would bridge digital divide

June 3, 2017

The government could cheaply and easily solve the broadband headache it has given itself trying to solve the digital divide, by offering free Wi-Fi access to local urban communities, a new report said this week.

Community Wi-Fi is the most cost effective way to provide Broadband For All, said the report by Top 10 Broadband.

Research by the broadband news site found that in high density urban areas, mast-based Wi-Fi is much cheaper to set up than fixed-line broadband networks.

In addition, installing Wi-Fi does not required roads to be dug up, and so does not disturb urban transport networks.

Top 10’s research was based on a pilot of community Wi-Fi in Islington, which provides free high speed broadband access to over 3,000 of the London borough’s less well off residents.

Andrew Barker, who managed the Islington project, said: “Providing free external internet access along what’s now known as the Tech Mile has been a huge success for Islington Council.

“We’ve continued to build on the project and are now targeting service delivery into the homes of social housing residents using broadband over powerline.”

Barker added that feedback from residents using the service has been “amazing”.

Jessica McArdle of Top 10 Broadband said: “It seems ludicrous that in an age of mobile technology we’re even contemplating digging up roads at huge expense and inconvenience to install networks when a cheaper solution may be at hand.

“Wi-Fi is cheap, has been shown to be a proven technology, and is perfect for ensuring universal access to broadband in cities.”


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