Free Public WiFi network makes Cambridge area super connected

March 16, 2015

A new Public WiFi network will be launched today (Monday 16 March) in and around Cambridge, which is fast becoming a super connected city where people can access the internet on the move.

Over 100 public buildings and open spaces are being transformed into free WiFi hotspots making it quicker and easier for people to get online to work, study, socialise and find services.

The new high tech service is being rolled-out across the Greater Cambridge area by the Connecting Cambridgeshire partnership of local councils to ensure businesses and communities can connect in an increasingly digital world.

Council leaders and guests will gather at The Meadows Community Centre, Arbury, Cambridge and use the new Public WiFi network to connect via a video call to colleagues on Jesus Green.

CambWifi is going live in many public buildings over the coming weeks including community centres, children’s centres, sheltered housing, leisure facilities, libraries, Park and Ride sites, and council offices in Cambridge and surrounding areas. The network is set to be extended to other parts of the county soon.

Free Public WiFi in open spaces and streets around central Cambridge is also being extended to Jesus Green in partnership with the University of Cambridge through The Cloud to meet growing demand since the service was launched last year.

Building upon and extending existing provision, the CambWifi service has been developed by Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council with funding from the Government’s SuperConnected Cities scheme.

Connecting Cambridgeshire partners are working together to overcome a range of challenges to develop a streamlined WiFi service that is easy to access, with sufficient bandwidth to meet the growing demand across the city and beyond.

These include engineering traditional lamp posts to host the latest WiFi technology, piloting innovative wireless mobile solutions with local companies, and linking with the existing Cambridgeshire Public Services Network (CPSN) provided through Virgin Media Business.

Welcoming the Public WiFi network going live, Councillor Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council, said:

“Cambridge is fast becoming a super connected city and needs to be to remain a national leader on innovative technology. Our partnership launch of Public Access WiFi enables people of all ages – whether residents, students or visitors – to access the internet easily on the go.

“It is also great to extend free Public Wifi to community centres and council buildings across Cambridge, including parts of the city gaining free WiFi for the first time. We would welcome further offers of support so we can expand free WiFi access even more.”

Councillor Ian Bates, Chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Economic and Environment Committee, which leads the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, said:

“Connecting Cambridgeshire is already rolling out high speed broadband across the county and Public WiFi is the next step to improving connectivity, which is vital to our economy and helping people access public services.”

Councillor Ray Manning, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said:

“Being able to access the internet on the go is really important and this new service is making it even easier than ever before to do just that. Our offices and depot are already connected and there is no doubt it is going to be a very popular addition to help people in the digital age.”

Jon Holgate, Head of Network, University of Cambridge, said:

“Extending the University network to the city’s open spaces has allowed us to give academics and students access to the internet and their work wherever they are. We recognised that a great deal of work goes on outside of the libraries and departments and, thanks to our close working relationships with business and the councils, we have been able to expand while keeping the technology discrete within one of Cambridge’s most beautiful parks.

“On top of all that we have been able to give the public access to the web via the system. Our statistics for the long-running public access WiFi in the city centre shows that more than half of the 20,000 plus users per day are accessing WiFi via The Cloud.”

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said:

“Our Super Connected Cities programme is transforming the digital landscape of Cambridge. By turning more than 100 public buildings into free WiFi hotspots we’re helping to ensure the city is fully equipped to deal with the challenges of the digital age. Residents, tourists and businesses will all benefit from the programme which will provide another boost for the local economy.”

It’s simple and safe to use Public WiFi to access the internet. Users only need to register once to use the free CambWifi network, while The Cloud may require a password entry.

Visit http://www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk/public-wifi to view a coverage map, list of locations going live and how to login via CambWifi or The Cloud.