Over 1,000 more UK public buildings to get free wi-fi under government scheme

The next phase of the government's £150m investment in free wi-fi is rolling out, with the scheme on track to be completed "as soon as March 2015".

The next stage of a government plan to link-up the UK with a network of free wi-fi centres has begun to roll-out and, according to minister for the digital economy Ed Vaizey is due to be complete within the next six months.

More than 1,000 public buildings, including museums, civic centres, transport hubs, and sporting complexes, will be included in the deployment which will give members of the public free access to wi-fi.

However, no new money is involved in the program announced on Thursday. The rollout is part of a previously announced £150m government investment, made up of an initial £100m set aside in 2011 and a futher £50m added to the pot in 2012.

What the government announced on Thursday is the areas that the money is going to. The UK cities to benefit are Aberdeen, Belfast, Brighton and Hove, Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Derby, Derry, Edinburgh, Leeds and Bradford, London, Manchester, Oxford, Perth, Portsmouth, and Salford.

To take one local example of how the wi-fi scheme is being implemented, in Manchester it will mean the addition of around 150 new wi-fi hotspots. They will be distributed across 21 public libraries including Central Library; seven art galleries or museums including the Urbis and City Art Gallery; nine homeless shelters; 29 leisure centres; 31 government-sponsored Sure Start centres; as well as various other parks, youth clubs, markets, community centres, leisure clubs, and adult education centres.

"The digital landscape of the UK is undergoing a period of tremendous improvement," Vaizey said in a statement. "This is all part of the government's long term economic plan. For business, visitors and the UK public, accessing wi-fi in our cities is absolutely vital."

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