Free wireless for Dublin City?

30 Jan 2007

Dublin City looks likely to be blanketed with free wireless internet access in the tradition of cities like San Francisco if a proposed plan by Dublin City Council gets the go-ahead.

According to reports this morning, Dublin City Council has put out a tender for consultants to offer advice regarding technological, regulatory and financial issues if such a service was deployed.

It is estimated that building a citywide network of Wi-Fi hotspots would cost the city of Dublin between €12m and €20m.

Such a network would not only impact citizens hoping to go online from anywhere in the city but would have a massive impact in terms of Dublin’s perception in the knowledge economy, resulting in potential inward investment opportunities as well as tourism.

One of the stipulations of the tender is that it will not provide competition to commercial operators already offering wireless and fixed-line services.

Providers like Eircom, BT, Vodafone, O2 and Bitbuzz are already active in Ireland’s Wi-Fi arena, providing hotspots in locations like hotels, airports and cafes on a paid-for basis. Eircom alone claims to have in excess of 1,000 public hotspots countrywide and offers free Wi-Fi routers with every new broadband connection.

A recent survey by UK telecoms regulator Ofcom revealed that Ireland has surprisingly the largest penetration of Wi-Fi hotspots per head of population in the world, with 18.3 hotspots per 1,000 people.

By John Kennedy