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Free internet is now available in a select number of public areas around Dublin city.
From today, free WiFi will be available around City Hall on Dame Street, St Patrick’s Park, and Smithfield.Lorna Maxwell, from the council’s economic development unit, said free internet will be available to users in 12 areas of the city centre by the end of April including Grafton Street, O’Connell Street and Temple Bar.
She said the council attempted a similar project in 2007 which would have involved city-wide access but had to abandon it after businesses providing other WiFi services complained. “So this time we decided that we’d stick to key public spaces in the locality.”
Basic internet access with speeds of up to 512 Kbps will be free, but users have to pay for speeds of up to 3 and 6 Mbps. Gowex, the Madrid-based company providing the service, will generate further revenue through advertising and roaming arrangements with mobile service providers.
Lord Mayor Naoise Ó Muirí said Dublin is already considered the unofficial information capital of Europe and the new service was “bringing the city into the digital age”.
He added: “Our future economic success, our ability to attract talent and investment and our competitive branding internationally means we have to use and apply digital technologies now… This project is one of the milestones that will deliver on our Digital Dublin Initiative.”
Artist Craig Robinson has designed wall mosaics to identify the WiFi hotspots. The mosaics feature quintessentially Dublin characters including a girl in her pyjamas, a street cleaner and a Viking.
Gowex has similar operations in 65 cities worldwide, according to chief executive Jenaro Garcia.
He said 70 per cent of the world’s inhabitants will soon live in urban areas and “all cities should be creating smart cities” by offering wireless internet. “Dublin is one of the cities that has the most aggressive and ambitious masterplans for digitising their city,” he added.