|Free Wi-Fi To Be Provided Across Wandsworth|
Provided by the Council in a deal with communications service Arqiva
The council is to provide free wi-fi coverage across much of the borough.
Councillors agreed this week to give a contract to the company Arqiva to provide a Wandsworth Council-branded wi-fi service. Registered users will get 30 minutes' free wi-fi a day, at no cost to the council.
The council will get half a million pounds from Arqiva at the beginning of the contract for the use of the council's lampposts to install the network, and will get a share of any income generated.
Subject to approval by the Executive on April 29, the wi-fi will come online in three phases. A significant proportion of the borough, including the town centres, will be covered by May 2014.
www.wandsworth.gov.uk, www.gov.uk and www.visitlondon.com will be free to use for any length of time without the need to register. Enabling free 24/7 access to the council website will make it easier for residents to access council tax services online. This is more convenient for them, and cuts costs, so helping to keep council tax low and protect frontline services.
The wi-fi contact is part of the council's Wandsworth Connected campaign. Eighty-five per cent of Wandsworth residents have internet access - up from 72 per cent in 2007 - and research shows that 54 per cent would definitely or probably access services online.
Many services are already online, including applying for parking permits, paying penalty charge notices, managing council tax and housing accounts, library services and booking MOTs and holiday and afterschool playschemes. It is also expected that the new universal benefits system will largely have to be managed online by claimants.
The council is also encouraging greater dialogue with residents online. @wandbc has around 7,000 Twitter followers and the council also communicates via Facebook, community website Streetlife and other online forums. A weekly e-newsletter, Wandworth24seven, offers people a regular roundup of news and information about online services - sign up at www.wandsworth.gov.uk/24seven.
Leader of the council, Cllr Ravi Govindia, said: "We are working hard to improve our website and put more services online. It's easier for our residents and, and it cuts costs for us - savings that we pass onto council tax payers.
"By giving our residents free access to the internet for the 30 minutes - and our site for as long as they like - we will make sure nobody loses out. It will also help our business community and mean all our young people - even those without internet access at home - can find out about training and employment opportunities."
Read the full committee report.