Anyone who has visited Edinburgh knows it is one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in Europe. It is also one of the best connected, thanks to the free public WiFi network we completed in 2017.

Since launch, we have signed up more than 1.1 million users in Edinburgh. Residents and visitors can experience speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second – faster than virtually all home WiFi networks and on a par with the best business services.

The network is a great asset for one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. It is also proving very useful since the onset of COVID-19.

Our network gives the City of Edinburgh Council a deeper insight into how people engage with the city centre, helping civic leaders to manage public space and key commercial and tourism areas.

Awareness of public realm and the quality of open space are increasingly important in the age of social distancing. We believe these will be the kite marks that people look for as we learn to live with coronavirus.

The Edinburgh network has succeeded in bringing people together users on a single platform. Mobile network providers simply cannot do that because of the sheer number of national and international operators involved.

WiFi technology is getting better all the time. Unlike the overhyped 5G, it is available here and now without excessive costs. We install our kit on street furniture, which is faster, cheaper and less disruptive to set up than fibre.

Facebook is investing in this sector. Its Terragraph technology launched in the UK in the summer. It operates on 60 GHz unlicensed band and delivers fibre-like speeds. We successfully applied the same approach in Wetherby, the historic West Yorkshire market town, last year.

IntechnologySmartCities is helping towns and cities across the UK adapt to COVID-19. Understanding how people are moving around our public spaces helps us to better manage our places.

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