Free Wi-Fi to be rolled out in Sheffield from May
Free Wi-Fi will be available in Sheffield city centre as early as next May next year.
Visitors, along with those living and working there, will be able to access free wireless internet throughout the city centre after Sheffield Council struck a deal with Idaq Networks.
The Sheffield-based firm will also support the city's universities and business start-ups to develop new technologies and products as part of the contract, running for up to 10 years.
The wireless service, with download speeds of 20Mbps and upload speeds of 4Mbps, is due to be rolled out in stages between May and November next year.
Councillor Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business, said: "I am absolutely delighted that we are working with a Sheffield company to provide one of the best public access Wi-Fi services in the country.
"The network will make the city centre a more attractive place to spend time visiting and shopping. It will also provide free of charge internet access to those who may not be able to afford it.
"The network also offers exciting opportunities for developing new and innovative products and services in Sheffield, by local organisations."
Idaq will provide free public access in return for exclusive use of council-owned lamp posts, and possibly council buildings and CCTV columns, to install 'superfast' and 'ultrafast' broadband equipment.
It will generate income by providing commercial network access for businesses and selling advertising and data collected through the registration portal, which users must access to connect to the free Wi-Fi.
The council's deputy leader Olivia Blake said Sheffield already had the fastest-growing digital sector of any city and the new deal would help it 'fulfil its digital ambitions'.
The deal, which will run for an initial seven years with the option to extend it for a further three, was approved last week.
The council invited 27 firms to bid for the contract, before choosing Idaq's proposal as the best of those received.
The public network will include a filter preventing access to inappropriate content.
The council will receive rent from the operator and a share of any profit generated, though precise details of the financial arrangements have not been published.