A total of 240 buildings in Manchester and Salfordwill be transformed into free wi-fi hotspots, it was announced today.
As part of the Government’s plans to see over 1,000 public buildings in cities across the UK offering free wi-fi, residents and visitors will be able to connect to the internet. Locations in Manchester and Salford include the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester Town Hall and Salford City Stadium as well as 39 libraries, 33 sports centres and 67 Sure Start and community centres.
The programme is part of an £150 million investment to transform the digital capability of UK cities, making them even more attractive places to live, do business, visit and invest in. Millions and millions of visitors, citizens and business men and women can take advantage of this huge boost to free connectivity in the UK.
Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and the county’s Local Enterprise Partnership have both given their support to the scheme.
Mike Blackburn, Chair of Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, said:
“This is more positive news for Greater Manchester’s digital infrastructure which currently offers the second largest wi-fi network in the UK.
“Indeed the provision of free wi-fi in public hotspots has already been a major success with the recent launch of Manchester’s FreeBee scheme which offers 30 minutes of free access per day at more than 80 on-street access points.
“The addition to this free network as announced today - at nearly 250 locations – will enhance the city-region’s reputation further as a place to live, work and visit. It offers an attractive prospect for commuters, business tourists coming into Manchester for conferences and short stays, and those who are looking to invest in the region.
“We’re therefore fully supportive of the initiative and look forward to it being rolled out.”
Matthew Kershaw, Digital Policy Lead at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, added:
“With the second largest cluster of digital and creative businesses in Europe, Greater Manchester is a hotbed of digital talent and activity.
“The Chamber welcomes this development, which will open the economic benefits of digital connectivity to a broader demographic in the city, giving more of our citizens the chance to access digital tools and develop the skills needed in a 21st century economy.
“Increasing connectivity in our city and town centres is a step towards extending this vital tool to all areas of economic activity.”
Over the coming months, libraries, museums, civic centres, transport hubs, sporting complexes and other buildings around the UK will begin to offer free wi-fi – some have already gone live, and the remainder are all on track to be up and running as soon as March 2015.
Demonstrating the ongoing transformation of the UK’s digital landscape, this project will ensure our cities boast world-class connectivity and are equipped to deal with the increasing demands of the digital age.
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said:
“The digital landscape of the UK is undergoing a period of tremendous improvement and is all part of the Government’s long term economic plan. For business, visitors and the UK public, accessing wifi in our cities is absolutely vital.
“I’m delighted this government scheme is on track. These free hotspots will be instrumental in making UK cities even more attractive as places to not only do business, but to visit as well.”
A map listing all of the buildings getting free wi-fi in Manchester and Salford is available here.