THE FIRST residents will be able to sign up for free wireless internet from 2pm today in Highworth.

Swindon Council plans to offer every household in Swindon two hours of free internet access through newly-formed company Digital City UK.

Highworth is the first part of the borough to go live with the scheme.

Shadow secretary of state for communities and local government Caroline Spelman will officially launch the scheme.

So far, 21 access points – which weigh less than a bag of sugar – have been installed on lamp posts around Highworth.

Rikki Hunt, who is running the project alongside the council and IT company aQovia, said 1,500 people have registered interest in the service so far.

He said: “It has been incredibly hard technically but we are really pleased with what we will be providing.

“It has been manic – but I’m 99 per cent certain we have done it.

“We are offering people free internet for Christmas in Highworth.

“We hope the town centre will be next, depending on technical advice. Installing this in Highworth has been a great challenge.

“We learnt a lot about putting this up in Highworth regarding different parts of the process.”

From 5pm to 7pm, residents are invited to come along to Highworth Library in Brewery Street where they will be able to enter a prize draw with iPods and 24-hour internet connections up for grabs.

In order to make the scheme financially feasible Digital City UK plans to sell products including 24-hour internet connections, energy monitoring and CCTV.

The additional products will not be available until later next month.

“As well as trying to go live in Highworth, we have had diversions with people wanting to talk to us and find out how we are doing,” said Mr Hunt.

“Every council that has spoken to us loves it.

“They love the model of how we are putting this together as a business in order to deliver the free service.”