Wi-Fight with a poor data connection? Leeds offers free city-centre Wi-Fi connectivity

Leeds took another step towards its connected future today with the launch of free wireless internet access on Briggate, one of Leeds City Centre’s main shopping areas.

Free Internet access will be provided through a collaboration between Leeds City Council and Virgin Media Business, and will be totally unrestricted, remaining free for as long as the user is connected. The service is the first step in a scheme designed to offer easy online access to Leeds’ residents, visitors and businesses. The city’s Wi-Fi network will be expanded in the coming year, with the next installation planned in Millennium Square in early 2013.

The Briggate service connects via the Virgin Media Business fibre network into aql’s Leeds city datacentre where it accesses globalreach portal equipment at one of aql’s datacentres, allowing the user access to the internet.

The service shows Leeds’ commitment to technology and connectivity for the benefit of residents and businesses. Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for development and the economy, Leeds City Council, said:
This is an opportunity to maintain and improve our competitive edge, attract investment and create employment.

Leeds is leading the way in ensuring that our digital infrastructure is in place to make the most of future developments and helping push forward our ambition of being the best city to live in, invest in and visit in the UK.

The service was launched at an event in the heart of the city’s shopping district, outside the Victoria Quarter shopping centre on Briggate at 2pm, with representatives from Leeds City Council present as well as delegates from some of the companies that are helping to make the city’s digital vision a reality.

Virgin Media Business’s director of wireless, Kevin Baughan said of the service:
a lot of people might have heard government officials discussing the idea of filling the UK with ‘super-connected’ cities. Leeds is among the first to be taking real steps towards unlocking the potential that new technology has to offer, in order to deliver exciting mobile services to its citizens.

These initial steps by Leeds City Council are being taken towards a connected future which includes the city’s largest data centre, DC4, which is being built by aql and is due to be operational by early 2014.

aql are working closely with the City Council to improve Leeds’ internet infrastructure, and aql CEO, Dr Adam Beaumont was in attendance at the launch of the free Wi-Fi service.

aql engineers fast-tracked the engineering involved within our datacentre to connect the parties together to meet their launch date.” said Dr Beaumont.

Our appetite for data continues to grow as the Internet becomes more integral to our lives, and this is the starting point for something big for this city. aql are investing into Leeds in the shape of our new £43 million data centre complex, and schemes like this justify our decision and show that the city is definitely going in the right direction.

Click here to download the official press release from Leeds City Council.

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