SWINDON is to have the country’s first town-wide 4G internet network.
Swindon Council announced the plans, which come in the wake of the ill-fated wi-fi project.
The first borough-wide 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) network in the UK will be available for subscription by homeowners and businesses.
The superfast network, which differs from other forms of broadband because users do not need a phone line, was set to go live for all but the periphery of the town today.
It will be followed later this month by a microwave network, which has been created in partnership with Swindon Council IT service provider Capita, and will provide capability for ultrafast broadband connections to schools, businesses and the local authority.
The introduction of both new networks marks investments made by UK Broadband (UKB) entirely at its own cost.
Council leader Roderick Bluh said: “It will open up so many different opportunities for us as a council and for households and businesses.”
It is estimated that the network will allow more than 67,000 households and 2,600 businesses in Swindon to access superfast broadband via a 4G box that can be plugged into any power socket.
Swindon’s previous venture into borough-wide wifi was Digital City, a partnership between the council and the private sector which was launched in 2009.
It collapsed after failing to deliver on promises to provide a wifi network, although a pilot scheme in Highworth was set up. Controversy over a loan of £400,000 by the local authority to the company has never abated.
The first of two phases of the new project offers a range of wireless broadband services to residents and businesses as a flexible alternative to fixed line broadband. Phase two will offer mobile services and this is expected to happen next Spring.
The network will first connect a significant number of council service sites, then be extended to support other council services and local businesses.
Councillor Bluh (Con, Old Town) said: “This technology will allow us to be much more flexible in terms of how we operate, while it has the capability to provide traffic calming solutions and improve our CCTV network.
“But perhaps the most exciting possibility is how it could be used to help older, vulnerable people to live independently in their homes. Using high speed broadband, we can provide technology in the home to enable older people to connect more closely with the people supporting them.
“We will be working with our internal teams, partners and the community to identify innovative ideas for further use of the network.”