Norwich goes wi-fi

A £1.1m scheme to introduce free mobile Internet access for the public sector, the business community and the general public in Norwich went live last week. Norfolk Open Link is the first community wireless network in the UK to provide citywide wi-fi access without charge.



The two-year project aims to evaluate the impact mobile technology could have on economic development in Norfolk and the delivery of public sector services.



Norfolk Open Link covers a large area of Norwich city centre and key sites, and will be deployed in up to 28 hotspots in the South Norfolk area.



The project is not allowed to compete with commercial wi-fi services, so the access speed for businesses and the public has been set at 256kbs Each session has also been limited to an hour. Public sector users will connect at a faster rate of 1mbps because of operational requirements.



Synetrix, a broadband service provider for the public sector, designed and installed the wireless network.



Norfolk Open Link was developed by Norfolk County Council and fully funded by the East of England Development Agency. It also features key applications developed in conjunction with South Norfolk District Council, Norwich City Council, University of East Anglia (UEA), Norfolk and NorwichUniversityHospital, Norfolk Constabulary and NorwichCityCollege.