`

Free Wi-Fi is on its way to Sheffield city centre

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, left, with Diane Jarvis, David Oliver and Mike Hague from Idaq
Councillor Mazher Iqbal, left, with Diane Jarvis, David Oliver and Mike Hague from Idaq

A 10-year deal has been announced that will see free, high-speed Wi-Fi access brought to outdoor areas and public buildings in Sheffield city centre

The service, which will be known as Sheffield Free Wi-Fi, is part of Sheffield City Council's ambition to be one of the best connected cities in the country and help make the city centre more vibrant.

Sheffield based Idaq Networks Ltd will provide the Wi-Fi service by installing superfast and ultrafast broadband equipment to council-owned street lights and street furniture.

The network will be available free of charge from next May to help innovative digital projects get off the ground, such as those led by the Sheffield Universities and Sheffield Digital.

Idaq will also use the network to provide a range of exciting cutting edge ultrafast broadband products and services to the residents and businesses of Sheffield city centre.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Cabinet Member for Business and Investment at Sheffield City Council, said: “I am absolutely delighted that we are working with a Sheffield company to provide one of the best public access Wi-Fi services in the country.

“The network will make the city centre a more attractive place to spend time visiting and shopping. It will also provide free of charge internet access to those who may not be able to afford it.

“The network also offers exciting opportunities for developing new and innovative products and services in Sheffield, by local organisations.”

Councillor Olivia Blake, deputy leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “This announcement will help Sheffield to fulfil its digital ambitions.

"We are already the city with the most rapidly growing digital sector and now we are on the verge of having a free city wi-fi package that will benefit businesses, visitors and residents alike.”

BID Manager Diane Jarvis said: “We believe that free Wi-Fi will drive greater footfall, supporting the high street and the local economy, and at the same time make it easier for visitors to access information about the city centre, such as retail and leisure attractions.

“The BID has lobbied for increased connectivity standards for Sheffield city centre for some time now and its fantastic news that the Council has now awarded a contract to make free Wi-Fi a reality.”

Mark Roebuck, Director of IDAQ Networks Ltd, said: “Everyone at Idaq Networks is very excited to be involved in this project. We are a local company and we have already invested heavily in Sheffield developing a commercial network providing high speed internet access to local businesses.

“Apart from the obvious benefits to our company this project will enable us to bring free internet access to everyone living in, working in and visiting the City centre in a very short period of time. The project will also allow us to help the Universities, innovative individuals and business start-ups with the development of new technologies and products.”

The network will be implemented in four phases:

- Phase One will be the Theatre District/Retail Zone (inc Fargate, Moor, Tudor Sq, Peace Gardens, Pinstone Street). Estimated go live: by the end of May 2018

- Phase Two will be the Entertainment Zone/New Retail Quarter (inc West Street, Division Street, Wellington St). Estimated go live: by the end of July 2018

- Phase Three will be the Arrivals Zone (inc Area around Railway and Bus Station, Sheffield Hallam University and Ponds Forge). Estimated go live: by the end of Sept 2018

- Phase Four will be the Cultural Industries/Devonshire Quarter. Estimated go live: by the end of Nov 2018