Northern cities become the first outside of London to become ‘super connected’.
Leeds and Bradford have taken a step closer to becoming the first UK cities outside of London to become ‘super connected’, with Virgin Media Business having won the UK’s first city wireless concessions outside of the capital.
The announcement marks the rollout of a free public Wi-Fi service to 1.2 million people in Bradford and Leeds city centres, paving the way for the deployment of the next generation of ‘small cell’ wireless networks.
The high performance Wi-Fi, which will be operated by Virgin Media Business by its partner Global Reach Technology Ltd and powered by Virgin Media’s fibre network, will be available to all. The first locations to receive the service in time for the New Year will be Briggate in Leeds and Bridge Street in Bradford. These will be followed by Millennium Square in Leeds and City Park in Bradford early in 2013.
Virgin Media Business’s win follows a series of trails undertaken in the summer, showing that small cell architectures are able to bolster the capacity of 3G and 4G networks. Allowing mobile services to keep up with the ever-growing demand for mobile broadband is a crucial step towards super connectivity for Leeds and Bradford.
Councillor Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council explained: “I’m delighted our citizens, visitors and businesses will be among the first in the country to benefit from a free, fast, accessible city centre Wi-Fi service. Leeds is leading the way in ensuring that our infrastructure is in place to make the most of future digital developments and we are pleased that our neighbours Bradford are also supporting the regional push for super-fast broadband”.
Councillor David Green, Council Leader of Bradford Council commented: “The super connected city initiative means a great deal for Bradford as we are a growing city with a big economy and the initiative will give existing local companies a greater competitive edge in national and global markets, as well attracting new companies and bringing additional jobs. Local residents will also be able to take advantage of the opportunities that enhanced broadband connections will bring.”
Kevin Baughan, Director of Wireless, Virgin Media Business explained: “Small cells can transform the mobile experience by providing the connectivity needed to match the explosive broadband demand from the rapidly growing number of smartphones and tablets. In Leeds and Bradford, we’re working with both the local authorities and mobile operators to put in place the infrastructure that will give residents, consumers and businesses access to the wireless connectivity that they need.”
He continued: “These projects in Leeds and Bradford are an important step towards making the vision of super-connected cities a reality and enabling future prosperity and innovation.”