Free Wf-Fi comes to Ely to boost trade and tourism as district council says ‘we need to play a role in making people’s lives easier’

East Cambridgeshire District Council hopes the introduction of free Wi-Fi across Ely will give a boo

East Cambridgeshire District Council hopes the introduction of free Wi-Fi across Ely will give a boost both to traders and encourage more visitors. Picture: ECDC - Credit: Archant

Free public Wi-Fi has arrived in Ely as part of a new initiative by the district council to boost trade and keep visitors happy.

East Cambridgeshire District Council says the new network will cover the busiest outdoor areas and is aimed at speedily connecting shoppers, market traders and the 100,000 visitors to the city each year.

Council leader Charles Roberts said their economic development team has been at the forefront of developing the network and is utilising the project as a pilot for planning the wider inclusion of other market towns within in the district and beyond.

“Working with local specialist company, Air Broadband, the team has managed to deliver in very short timescales an innovative and cost effective solution to building the necessary infrastructure to make this all possible,” he said.

Cllr Roberts said ‘Ely Free Wi-Fi’ service will cover a large proportion of the city centre areas including the Market Place, Market Street, High Street and Forehill.

A total of nine Wi-Fi hotspots have gone live, allowing users to log on via their phones or tablets whilst ‘on the go’ with additional connected zones outside the city centre identified for possible future inclusion.

He said the network has been designed for street use rather than inside buildings and users within range will be able to tap into free Wi-Fi following a simple on-off log in.

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“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to launch Ely free Wi-Fi,” said Cllr Roberts.

“This will be a boost to the city centre and to traders. The reality is that we’re living in an increasingly digitally connected society and as a council we need to play a role in making people’s lives easier.

“More and more people are browsing the internet and making digital payments whilst they’re out and about and Ely free Wi-Fi will be of benefit to them.

He added: “The ambition does not stop with Ely. We need to extend free Wi-Fi to our market towns and large villages as soon as possible.”

Ely Markets, who received a visit from HRH Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall last week, are also delighted with the developments.

Julia Davis, markets officer, said “We are finding more and more that customers at Ely markets expect to be able to use card payments in their transactions.

“The new Ely Free Wi-Fi network will be a huge benefit to all stall holders who will be able to take advantage of the steady signal and use hand-held payment machines.”

She said the free Wi-Fi would be a bonus for Christmas trading and for New Year visitors.