Listening to the BBC in the car on the way back from our last appointment today I heard an interview with a representative of the town of Swindon in Wiltshire, where they have just announced a plan to provide free WiFi access to the internet for all residents.
The £1million project to build a ‘WiFi Mesh’ aims to provide blanket wi-fi coverage using a network of ‘internet access points’ at 1,400 locations in the town.
The initiative is a public-private partnership,with residents provided with free line rental, and no connection charge. They will be able to access the internet and download emails without charge, but usage will be limited. If they want more than that subscribers can sign up for 20Mb upgrades for “significantly less per month than major broadband competitors” after a free three-month trial.
I hope the idea is given consideration back in NZ to help with the current government dallying over plans to roll out broadband through partnerships with local fibre companies this could be the sort of thing that helps make it a reality. I see the Swindon initiative as an example of future thinking that is ultimately in the interests of everyone. As Rod Bluh, Swindon borough council leader, is quoted as saying: “Not only will residents in the borough be able to access the internet for free, the council and its partners will be able to use the technology to provide cutting-edge services to the areas or individuals who need them.” Apparently there are also plans in Swindon to deliver information such as real-time home electricity usage and air-quality monitoring. The possibilities are endless…
Well done Swindon – now New Zealand, let’s see some similar initiatives begin to roll out around the country to follow the broadband roll-out.