Free Wi-Fi services to be deployed in Newcastle & Gateshead

Residents and businesses to benefit from area-wide access to free Wi-Fi, thanks to government-backed deal

The residents of Newcastle and Gateshead will soon be able to access free Wi-Fi, after their respective city councils struck a deployment deal with networking firm Gowex.

The company has agreed to install a series of Wi-Fi hubs throughout Newcastle city centre and the town of Gateshead before the start of 2015.

Councillor Malcolm Graham, the cabinet member for employment and skills at Gateshead Council, said the rollout of free Wi-Fi will benefit business, residents and tourists visiting the area.

"Being able to connect quickly and easily to the internet is now such an integral part of business and personal life," he said.

"This scheme offering free Wi-Fi in key public areas confirms our commitment to being at the forefront of the digital revolution."

The deployment work will be paid for by Gowex, who has also agreed to use Gateshead council staff and Newcastle's team of streetlight contractors to carry out the work.

Councillor Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, said using local labour to carry out the deployment was a key requirement of the project.

"We're pleased with this arrangement, because it means our installation is being done by local workers who know the area, and have the knowledge, equipment and training to do the work to a high standard," he said.

The work has also been partly funded by the Government's 530 million Broadband Deliver UK (BDUK) initiative, which aims to improve the quality of internet connections throughout the UK.

The free Wi-Fi rollout is part of the ongoing Go Digital Newcastle project. Its aim is to bring superfast broadband to 97 per cent of the city by the summer of 2015.

Through the scheme, which is backed by Newcastle City Council, SMBs can apply for vouchers worth up to 3,000 to get access to superfast broadband services.

Communications minister Ed Vaizey said the news is bound to be welcomed by businesses and local residents alike.

"The funding that government has made available to Newcastle will see free Wi-Fi spots pop up in public areas across the city, allowing everyone access to broadband while on the move, and is all part of the remarkable transformation of connectivity currently underway," he said.

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