More free time online as Leeds city centre WiFi expands

It is a key date in the diary for one of Leeds’ premier events venues as Millennium Square becomes the latest place to benefit from the city’s free WiFi service.

From Friday 29 March the Leeds Free WiFi goes live in Millennium Square, following a successful city centre launch in Briggate at Christmas, with thousands of users already signed up.

They will be connected automatically to the new service in Millennium Square, with new users easily able to register by searching for “Leeds Free WiFi” on their mobile device.

It will mean that people will be able to use it while attending any of the many events hosted there throughout the year- such as the Ice Cube, exhibitions or one-off gigs like that by indie rock band The Vaccines in May.

As it will be accessible all year round, it will also mean that any visitors to the square- whether shopping, passing through or taking a lunch break from work- will be able to make the most of it.

Since the launch on Briggate on December 19, people visiting the city’s main shopping street have enjoyed more than 475,000 free minutes of internet access.

The free mobile internet access has been made available thanks to a collaboration between Leeds City Council and Virgin Media Business. And unlike similar public WiFi arrangements where it is only free for the first quarter or half hour, the Leeds Free WiFi will remain free for as long as the user is connected.

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for development and the economy, Leeds City Council, said:

“Expanding the Leeds Free WiFi service to Millennium Square enables even more visitors, residents and businesses to use it and it has the added bonus of making the experience of attending events easier to share.

“It has been great to see how popular the Briggate free WiFi has been since its launch just a few months ago. Leeds was one of the first places in the country to offer such a scheme and this is further proof of our commitment to high-tech digital infrastructure to help attract jobs, investment and visitors to the city.”

The service will be run by Virgin Media Business under an agreement that ensures there is no cost or risk to the council and it has put in place the infrastructure for the WiFi connectivity in conjunction with its partner, Global Reach Technology.

Kevin Baughan, director of wireless, Virgin Media Business, commented:

“Today the citizens of Leeds will begin benefitting from access to superfast public WiFi in Millennium Square, taking its place alongside Briggate which launched the service in December last year. Leeds City Council is setting an example for the rest of the country by showing what’s possible with the latest technology and collaboration.

“The public’s appetite for accessing data on the move on smartphones and tablets is bigger than ever before, and this kind of technology will be vital in helping to provide faster speeds as more people demand more data. Very soon cities will demand even faster connectivity and more capacity. By working in partnership with cities like Leeds and mobile operators we’re not only rolling out innovative public services, we’re also laying the foundations that will boost the mobile experience over 3G, 4G and beyond.”

People wishing to use the free WiFi will be able to set smartphones, tablets or laptops to locate the ‘Leeds Free WiFi’ service and then follow a simple registration process.

The development paves the way for a potentially expanding WiFi network and also the deployment of next generation 3G and ultimately 4G ‘small cell’ wireless networks, which will transform mobile access and meet the growing use of smartphones and tablets in the city.

Notes to editors:

The high performance WiFi service is free for anybody to use and is operated for Virgin Media Business by its partner Global Reach Communications Ltd, powered by Virgin Media’s fibre network.

For media enquiries please contact:

Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335

email: donna.cox@leeds.gov.uk