A total of 48 hotspots will be installed across 13 locations throughout Fingal and preparatory work has taken a major step forward this week.
Fingal County Council staff, as well as representatives from Fingal Chamber and Magnet Networks, began visiting local businesses in Swords, Malahide, Rush, Lusk, Howth, Portmarnock and Blanchardstown Village and Town Centre last week with a view to identifying suitable access points in order to enable the public Wi-Fi service. The access points need to be mounted on the outside of each premises and has a range of 150m outside but will not extend inside the business premises or interfere with the businesses own broadband.
The team will then move onto the remaining areas of Skerries, Donabate, Santry, Castleknock and Clonsilla.
The initiative is supported by the WIFI4EU voucher scheme which aims to provide high-quality internet access across the EU to citizens and visitors via free of charge WiFi hotspots in public spaces such as town and village centres, parks and civic spaces.
Magnet Networks has been awarded the contract to install the access points in Fingal.
Mayor of Fingal Cllr David Healy said: “The introduction of this service will strengthen Fingal’s reputation as a forward thinking and digitally inclusive urban and rural landscape, which strongly promotes access to on-line services and information across the County. I would encourage local businesses to support this initiative as free public wi-fi will have major benefits for our towns and villages.”
Chief Executive AnnMarie Farrelly said: “Fingal County Council is committed to developing and improving the County’s digital infrastructure and services. Access to free public Wi-Fi in our major town centres and villages will be a major asset to our residents, visitors, and businesses. The provision of free public Wi-Fi forms part of the Council’s Digital Strategy and I am pleased to see that we are moving onto the next phase of rolling out this service.”
Digital Strategy Manager Aishling Hyland said: “Free public wi-fi has already been successfully trialled in Balbriggan and we are looking forward to moving forward with the 13 selected areas across Fingal. Fingal County Council was awarded funding under the recent WiFi4EU funding call and this was matched by the Department of Rural and Community Development.
“Public Wi-Fi is becoming a critical part of the town centre offering for retail and tourism and our standalone networks are seen as the exemplar of how this is implemented around the country,” said Magnet Networks’ Sales Director Philip Clapperton.
“For example, over 250,000 people have logged into our Galway network alone since its installation. The network can also provide the local authority with vital information on pedestrian traffic through the use of positional heat maps.”
Fingal Chamber Chief Executive, Anthony Cooney said: “In this era of digitalisation, the provision of free wi-fi in public spaces will be a benefit to the citizens, visitors and businesses across Fingal.
The Chamber supports this initiative as it will ensure more people in our towns can go online free-of-charge, where they might find products and services they can purchase nearby.
We are working with Fingal County Council to help identify the optimal locations for the hotspots and look forward to talking to businesses about how we can all maximise this great opportunity.”