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Belfast buildings go digital with free wifi

12 Feb 2015
Free wifi is being switched on at public buildings throughout Belfast as the city’s digital transformation continues.

Citizens and visitors can use the Belfast WiFi network to stay connected while accessing services and facilities at community and leisure centres, visitor attractions and a range of other busy sites.

The service is now available at nine venues, including the Ulster Hall and Belfast Castle. Another 21 buildings will go live next week. In total, over 100 public venues will offer free Internet access by the end of March, including City Hall, Belfast Waterfront and St George’s Market, as well as non-council owned buildings such as Laganside and Royal Courts and Northern Ireland Housing Executive offices.

The BelfastWiFi network is the latest initiative to be delivered through the Super Connected Belfast programme, supported by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Urban Broadband Fund and the council’s own Investment Programme for the city.

It will also be extended into the new Belfast City Council boundary area, to include many community buildings transferring to the council in April.

“With 70% of us now owning a smart phone or other wifi enabled device, it’s vital that our venues keep up to date with changing trends and meet the demands and expectations of the people who use them,” said Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nichola Mallon.

“This network of wifi hotspots will eventually reach into every corner of the city, and make it easier for citizens, businesses and visitors to check their emails, access social media and surf the web – all for free.

“It will bring new opportunities, encouraging our buildings to explore ways of engaging with users through technology, and promote Belfast internationally as a vibrant, must-see destination to those using the service at some of our most popular tourism and business venues.

“I’m also pleased that new residents transferring to Belfast from Lisburn and Castlereagh will benefit from this exciting addition too, at some of their local community buildings.”

Councillor Lee Reynolds, Chair of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, said the rollout of the BelfastWiFi network underlined the city’s ambition to create a world-class digital infrastructure.

“Belfast is one of 21 Super Connected Cities in the UK, with a total of £16.7 million being spent to develop our connectivity and attract more jobs and investment here,” he explained.

“So far, we’ve provided over £1 million of support to businesses to boost their broadband speed, through our connection voucher scheme, and we’re continuing to encourage firms to take up this help so they can do more online.

“A programme of digital inclusion activities is also running at IT hubs in many of our community centres, with plenty of free activities for all ages to ensure no-one is left behind and everyone gets the chance to see how the web can help them.

“We are also progressing plans for street level wifi to boost capacity and speed and introduce additional wifi zones. Together with this new BelfastWiFi network, these initiatives are bringing very real benefits for all of us, both now and into the future – a key goal of our Investment Programme.”
Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Nichola Mallon is pictured in the Ulster Hall making use of the BelfastWiFi network, one of the many buildings across the city to provide the service by March 2015.