Free town and city Wi-Fi – is there any point at having broadband at home anymore?

It seems more towns and city councils are rolling out a form of free WiFi as a public service to its citizens and visitors. Today’s news that Arqiva will be rolling out a service in Camden and offering the first 30 minutes for free shows strong intent by the operator who recently bought the WiFi provider Spectrum Interactive to hunt down some of the mobile broadband business. 

Our own experience of providing WiFi to Monmouth town centre has demonstrated that there is certainly a need. Uptake within the MonmouthPedia area is increasing weekly  – however, unlike Arqiva, our focus isn’t in the major urban areas where 3G mobile signals are strong and plentiful.

As the first Wiki town in the world, Monmouth leads the way  and Monmouthshire County Council wanted to fill the gap where mobile connectivity was poor in order to encourage and enable businesses, visitors, residents and school pupils to engage digitally with both the council and the outside world.

Spectrum Internet is also now an active broadband provider in Monmouth  and new customers seem to be happily moving across from the larger providers. Providing free WiFi in the town doesn’t seem to be a substitute. Instead, customers use this as an additional service  – the ability to tap in to broadband ‘on the go’ and can be more effective than using the 3G on your mobile phone.

So, mobile network operators currently rolling out their 4G service (now that they have secured their OfCom licences) will need to be keeping one eye on broadband and wifi providers, like us, who can offer data services outside of the home as well as in….

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