Sheffield’s first-ever free high-speed wi-fi will be going live across the city centre on World Wi-Fi Day.

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

Sheffield-based Idaq Networks is providing the wi-fi service by installing 220 pieces of superfast and ultrafast broadband equipment to council-owned street lights and street furniture.

The first phase of the wi-fi network covers the theatre and retail district including Fargate, the Peace Gardens, Winter Garden, Tudor Square, Pinstone Street and The Moor.

Further phases will be launched in the months ahead, so that almost all the city centre will be covered by November 2018.

A team of wi-fi helpers will be in Sheffield city centre to show people how to access Sheffield Free Wi-Fi for the first time.

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.

The service will comply with the new General Data Protection Regulations giving users control over their personal data. Users can be confident that personally identifiable data needed to provide the service, will not be sold to third parties.

People who use the Wi-Fi  will be provided with “private VLAN” technology  which means they will have  a more secure internet browsing experience.

Councillor Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for business and investment, said: “It is fitting that we are launching the city’s first free Wi-Fi on World Wi-Fi Day. Having this provision means that we can attract more businesses and visitors into our brilliant and thriving city centre with a wi-fi provision that is better than many other core cities.

“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.”

Mark Roebuck, Director of IDAQ Networks Ltd, said: “This year has been very exciting for us as well as being very demanding.

“We are pleased to have built Phase 1 of what we believe will be the biggest and most comprehensive city Wi-Fi project in the UK. We are now working on the roll out of the remainder of the project. I hope people enjoy using the free service and that it delivers increased opportunities to the people and businesses in the city centre.”

One of the new bits of superfast equipment on the roof of Moorfoot
One of the new bits of superfast equipment on the roof of Moorfoot

Diane Jarvis, Sheffield BID manager, 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 Wi-Fi is now available for the public and businesses to connect to. The BID looks forward to seeing other projects develop, which have been made possible thanks to increased connectivity in Sheffield city centre.”

The Sheffield Free Wi-Fi will be implemented in four phases:

Phase One will be the Theatre District/Retail Zone (inc Fargate, Moor, Tudor Sq, Peace Gardens, Winter Garden, Pinstone Street). Launched 20th June 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

Further phases will be implemented where there is demand/footfall. Idaq have plans to extend the network to Castlegate and Kelham Island later this year.

Key Features of the Network

The network will provide blanket coverage within the majority of the Business Improvement District.

The network will be rolled out in 4 stages, the first stage will be launched on 20th June 2018 and the remaining stages by November 2018.

The Wi-Fi service will offer download speeds of 20Mbps and upload speeds of 4Mbps.

There is no net cost to Sheffield City Council for the network.

The Wi-Fi Services is free of charge to the user.

The Wi-Fi service provides a high quality customer experience for access, registration and use.

The Wi-Fi service provides a family friendly experience with internet filtering to prevent access to inappropriate content;

The Wi-Fi network will provide reliable, high quality performance on initial deployment and will be maintained throughout the 10 year period to ensure it keeps pace with the latest developments in technology.

World Wi-Fi Day

World Wi-Fi day is a global initiative to help bridge the digital divide. It is a platform to recognize and celebrate the significant role Wi-Fi is playing in cities and communities around the world by driving exciting and innovative projects to ‘connect the unconnected’.

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