Six Tipperary towns set to get free public Wi-Fi by end of April
Magnet Networks is set to unveil free on-street Wi-Fi in six towns across Tipperary at the end of April – the first deployment in an EU-backed €3 million nationwide public connectivity scheme.
The connectivity company has won the tender for Tipperary under the WiFi4EU initiative, which provides funding to local authorities for free Wi-Fi in public areas and the main centres of community life.
Tipperary Town, Nenagh, Roscrea, Clonmel, Thurles and Carrick-on-Suir will all benefit from high-speed Wi-Fi that provides locals and visitors with unlimited access to speeds of up to 100mps across 60 access points.
Magnet Networks introduced high-speed public connectivity to Ireland in 2017, with its free Wi-Fi service operating in 15 cities and towns including Galway, Westport, Carlow, Sligo, Swords, Balbriggan, Malahide and Skerries – across 108 access points.
“Public Wi-Fi is becoming a critical part of the town centre offering for retail and tourism, and our standalone networks are seen as the exemplar of how this is implemented around the country,” said Magnet Networks’ sales director Philip Clapperton.
“For example, over 220,000 people have logged into our Galway network alone since its installation. The network can also provide the local authority with vital information on pedestrian traffic through the use of positional heat maps. This has recently been used to great effect in Galway to confirm an 11% annual increase in footfall in the central business district in the past 12 months.
“In some of our locations the network is also powering a number of smart benches in addition to providing free high-speed connectivity."
Magnet Networks is involved in other large-scale deployments such as Central Park in Leopardstown.
Under the WiFi4EU scheme, successful local authorities are issued with vouchers worth €15,000 to install Wi-Fi hotspots, which must be free of charge to the user, free from advertising and with no commercial re-use of data.
Each voucher is worth 15 access points and to date 28 of Ireland’s 31 local authorities have now secured WiFi4EU vouchers, with 23 securing the maximum of four available and 12 still to go to tender.
The Department of Rural and Community Development is providing matched funding of €15,000 for every voucher awarded to Ireland by the EU, effectively doubling the value of the investment.
The fourth and final call for applications will open in 2020 when Ireland can apply for a further 24 vouchers, possibly adding another €360,000 to the successful draw-down from the EU.
"This is a fantastic result for Tipperary that will bring free Wi-Fi hotpots to many public spaces through the county and will vastly improve connectivity in communities,” said Tipperary County Council cathaoirleach Cllr. Michael Murphy.
“As a member of the European Broadband Platform that helped developed the scheme, this outcome shows how active Tipperary County Council is in accessing EU funds and its determination to bring connectivity to town centres across the county."