PEOPLE living, working, shopping and visiting Newcastle can now connect to free Wi-Fi in public buildings across the city thanks to GoDigital_WiFi.
As part of the Go Digital Newcastle programme, BT is providing the service in 69 public buildings.
It means people in the city are able to get online free of charge in the Civic Centre, Newcastle City Council customer service centres, Your Homes Newcastle centres, libraries and museums to connect to the internet and check their emails, search for jobs, look up information, book tickets and more whilst on the move.
More than 3.7 million people visit the public buildings every year, so the addition of free Wi-Fi will be a massive boost to the city’s connectivity.
Cllr Joyce McCarty, Deputy Leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “Newcastle has entered the super-league when it comes to providing Wi-Fi to our residents, business people and visitors.
“BT has a strong track record in delivering public Wi-Fi, with over five million hotspots across the UK, carrying more Wi-Fi traffic than any other provider.
“We’ve already seen the Go Digital Newcastle project rolling out superfast broadband across the city. And now with this further investment, Newcastle will have a digital infrastructure that will be the envy of many cities across the world.
“The council, together with the wider public sector, is moving an increasing number of services online.
“This free-to-access public Wi-Fi service, alongside the other elements of the Go Digital Newcastle programme, is working to ensure that residents, businesses and visitors are able to access Wi-Fi in a choice of locations so they are not disadvantaged by these changes, and are able to get the best out of our increasingly digital world.”
The public buildings service goes hand-in-hand with a programme of installing outdoor Wi-Fi hot spots in conjunction with Gateshead Council.
The first phase is now complete covering 30 locations initially, with 41 more locations scheduled to be added during the second phase – giving good coverage in main pedestrian routes around the city centre, Quayside and Gateshead's new town centre.
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 Wi-Fi 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.
Simon Roberson, BT’s regional partnership director for the North East, said: “Increasingly we have a need and desire to be constantly connected to the online world.
“Now, in Newcastle, it will be easy and cost free to arrange or check travel plans via an app or website, tweet pictures of the latest exhibition at the Great North Museum, pay rent or a bill online or even to just check a map as you explore the City.
“With online messaging apps people can stay in contact with friends or families, with those on ‘pay as you go’ no longer worrying about running out of credit. And with the new phone charging lockers in Eldon Square even keeping mobiles charged is no longer a problem.”
The project is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as part of the Government’s UK-wide Super Connected Cities programme.
Digital Economy Minister, Ed Vaizey, said: “I'm delighted that our investment in the Go Digital Newcastle programme will see residents, workers and visitors able to access free Wi-Fi in 69 public buildings throughout the city.
“Connectivity on-the-go is becoming more and more important and projects like this will help ensure Newcastle is equipped to deal with the increasing demands of the digital age.”
To find out which public buildings in Newcastle is connected, visit the Wi-Fi Page.