Norwich gets UK's largest free wireless network

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The lucky residents of Norwich and the surrounding area have just gained access to Britain’s largest free wi-fi network.

Originally designed to provide free broadband to local businesses, it’s since been extended to include council employees and the general public, and went fully live today.

The network covers a 4km radius from County Hall, as well as providing for local universities, hospitals and business parks.

The urban areas are fully meshed, with transmitters on lampposts that provide wi-fi access and communicate to one another and the central server. In the middle – on top of County Hall – is a "pre WiMax" 5.8GHz connection. In more rural areas, hotspots of wi-fi access have been set up.

Apparently it’s not intended to operate in competition with private telecoms companies. It’s an outside network that may or may not work in homes – and in any case individuals will be capped at 256Kbps speed, not bad for free but hardly lightning fast.

This is great news for Norfolk – not only the city of Norwich but rural areas where getting broadband can often be difficult.

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Andy Merrett

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