Rotherham is to get free wi-fi across the town centre by the spring of next year under a deal which won’t bring any costs to the council.
The scheme is intended to increase the appeal of the town centre and comes at a time when the council is also planning to make changes to increase internet access for its public services, to both meet the demands of increasing online traffic and to maximise efficiency.
Councillors who approved the scheme were told the wi-fi will work “in public spaces and public buildings within Rotherham town centre in order to make Rotherham a more vibrant and attractive place for citizens, visitors, businesses and shoppers in order to increase footfall and to help local businesses thrive and grow.”
Financially, it will work through a ‘ concession contract’, with the chosen operator being given access to the publicly owned points where its equipment could be installed – with the supplier providing a paid-for service to businesses while operating the public service for free as the price of renting the location points for its equipment.
Councillors were told: “The council is in a unique position to help the town centre in that it owns hundreds of street assets that could be used to provide public access wi-fi through a concession contract, in exchange for providing the bidder with exclusive use of those street assets for wireless communications.
“This project is not something the council is legally obliged to do.”