Free outdoor WiFi launched in Newcastle and Gateshead

Visitors and residents of Newcastle and Gateshead can now connect to free outdoor WiFi following the roll-out of a new scheme.

In a partnership between Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council, as part of the Go Digital Newcastle programme, BT is providing an outdoor WiFi service in key pedestrian routes in Newcastle city centre, Gateshead town centre and both sides of the Quayside.

The outdoor service is an extension of the free WiFi that was launched last year in many public buildings across Newcastle, including the Civic Centre, Newcastle City Council customer service centres, Your Homes Newcastle centres, libraries and museums.

The council and the wider public sector are moving an increasing number of services online, and it’s hoped the free public WiFi will ensure residents, businesses and visitors can take advantage of the changes.

The outdoor WiFi service, awarded in partnership with Gateshead Council, is being deployed using a mix of BT telephone kiosks, lampposts and CCTV columns.

The concession contract with BT is for 10 years at no cost to the councils, who will receive an initial upfront rental fee and annual rent from BT for the use of its street furniture. The annual income is based on a revenue share with BT.

Under the fully managed service contract, BT will install and operate the service and provide a 24/7 support desk for users via a free 0800 telephone number.

The services are based on fast dual-band WiFi standards with no restriction on the length of time users can browse the internet, and with a block on inappropriate content, the service will be safe and family friendly for all users.

The Go Digital project is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as part of the Government’s UK-wide Super Connected Cities programme.

Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Matt Hancock, said: “Our investment in the Go Digital Newcastle programme means people can now access free WiFi in at even more outdoor locations in Newcastle and Gateshead. With more and more people needing to connect on the go, this project is helping make sure the city is properly equipped for the digital age.”

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