Free high street Wi-Fi to be rolled out to 11 East Suffolk towns from April
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
The first towns to benefit from a £1.1million programme to establish free high street Wi-Fi and shopping offers in East Suffolk will go live in April.
A successful pilot in Framlingham back in 2019 prompted East Suffolk Council’s cabinet to agree a major investment plan into a further 11 ‘digital towns’, which will see free Wi-Fi provided in town centres.
It also includes online promotions to attract shoppers, footfall tracking data for businesses, high street apps, town websites and other benefits.
The council has now confirmed that the first two towns – Lowestoft and Felixstowe – will be online in April.
The other nine – Aldeburgh, Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth, Leiston, Saxmundham, Southwold, Wickham Market and Woodbridge – will be completed by October this year.
An update by cabinet member Stephen Burroughes to this week’s full council meeting, said: “Plans for the public Wi-Fi and footfall monitor installations are progressing well with the first towns, Lowestoft and Felixstowe, on track to be installed in March and launched in April 2022.
“The other towns will follow in a phased approach, completing by October 2022.
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“The ambition and drive to secure these digital towns to help them understand their digital profile is a fundamental part of the council trajectory for delivering transformational change.”
Cllr Burroughes added that it “will give greater visibility to the existing town
promotional assets and direct visitors to relevant local information”.
In July 2020 when the cash for the scheme was signed off, the council said it hoped smaller towns and villages may benefit in future too.
The authority is spending around £900,000 on the scheme, with £200,000 from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.
In the Framlingham pilot, anonymised footfall tracking data allowed businesses to see the most regular routes of shoppers and busiest times of day. This data allowed bosses to tailor promotional offers and opening times to meet those needs.
Figures from the Framlingham pilot showed that in 12 months there were 18,360 uses of the free Wi-Fi with an average connection time of 72 minutes, and that nearly half of the entire town’s population had used the network.