Free public Wi-Fi launched in Cambridge

June 23, 2014

Free Wi-Fi has been launched in central Cambridge by Connecting Cambridgeshire and the University of Cambridge to revolutionise how residents, visitors and students connect to the city.

A year-long trial of a new Wi-Fi network has been launched (Monday 23 June) by Connecting Cambridgeshire and The University of Cambridge ready for when the Tour de France comes to Cambridge on Monday 7 July.

The free Wi-Fi will allow people to keep up to date with friends, work or study on the move and share their experiences of events such as the Tour de France. The service is being provided through BskyB-owned The Cloud, which has over 22,000 hotspots across the UK.

Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council and the University of Cambridge have worked together to set up the free public access Wi-Fi, which builds upon existing University networks to bring lasting benefits for the city and beyond.

It is the first step in making Wi-Fi technology more widely available as part of Connecting Cambridgeshire’s ambitious programme to improve connectivity across the county.

Image of Wifi Launch

John Holgate, Noelle Godfrey and Cllr Lewis Herbert

Councillor Steve Count, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, which leads the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, said: “Cambridge has always been at the forefront of new technology and evolving the way we interact with the world.  This new free public Wi-Fi service in central Cambridge is a fantastic example of the difference we can make for residents, visitors and students by working together.

“Developing wider public access Wi-Fi and improving mobile coverage is part of the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme’s drive for better connectivity across the county, which is vital in an increasingly digital world. This trial paves the way for improving wireless connectivity across the city and beyond.”

Jon Holgate, Head of Network, University of Cambridge, said: The University of Cambridge has taken this opportunity to invest in free public Wi-Fi because of the value of extending our existing University networks and bringing a lasting legacy for the city, which everyone can benefit from. This project represented an excellent opportunity to work closely both with University colleagues as well as local partners across the City to deliver genuinely innovative and leading-edge services to academics and the general public alike.                                

“We expect thousands of people will use the free Wi-Fi for the Tour de France event which will be a challenge for the network capacity, and the good news is that the service will still be available when the cyclists have moved on.”

Councillor Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council said: “Cambridge has a global reputation for innovation. We want to enhance this by ensuring we are digitally connected, making sure people can access the Internet on the go.

“This is just the beginning of our plans to expand public access Wi-Fi for the city and beyond, so more people can share the benefits of being connected where-ever they are.”

Users of the free Wi-Fi can connect to the Internet by logging in, or registering, via a shared landing page on The Cloud, which will provide links to useful information and event updates. A map of free Wi-Fi coverage in Cambridge can be viewed at http://www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk/wifi

Connecting Cambridgeshire is leading the introduction of public access Wi-Fi as part of the Government-funded Super Connected Cities project to improve superfast broadband connectivity and expand wireless technology in Cambridge and surrounding economic areas of South Cambridgeshire.

The University of Cambridge is investing in the network as part of plans to extend its existing education Wi-Fi networks to all Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin students, staff and visiting academics to cover open spaces such as Parker’s Piece and Jesus Green.

The University’s existing networks already support up to 25,000 unique visitors each week of which a third are visitors from other universities. Demand for the free Wi-Fi will be monitored over the next 12 months to help plan for future extension of the network.