Boost as Longford County Council agrees free public wi-fi deal

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

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liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

St Mel's Cathedral in Longford has been chosen as Ireland's favourite building. Photo by: Donal Murphy

St Mel's Cathedral is one of a number of points of public interest in Longford town which is being earmarked for free street wi-fi.

Free public wi-fi is coming to Longford town.

The move is being billed as a key requirement in ongoing efforts to enhance the county town’s tourism and business potential.

It will also see around a dozen points of local interest included in the street broadband rollout which could conceivably become operational before Christmas.

Local politicians rubber-stamped the move after a presentation was delivered by Magnet Networks at last week’s meeting of Longford Municipal District.

A spokesperson for the firm said the scheme was not designed to replace existing broadband facilities already set up within individual business outlets, but was more geared towards the main thoroughfares and points of public interest within provincial towns.

He also revealed local businesses would be in a position to avail of greater commercial exposure through advertising streams once various access points around the town are installed.

“We will do a launch and put signs up,” he said, adding that the company, which is Ireland’s third largest ISP provider, was committed to signing up to an initial two year agreement.

“We believe there is an opportunity for Magnet to provide a free wi-fi service that not only provides free wi-fi but that also gives back to the community from an advertising and data analytics perspective.”

Broadband Officer with Longford County Council, Christine Collins said the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of towns like Cavan and Sligo in bringing public wi-fi to its main streets was simply too good an opportunity to turn down.

“We (Council) feel that free wi-fi is a vital link for tourism, it is a key communication tool, it maps out visitors' journey throughout the town,” she said.

“It is family friendly, measures footfall and analytics will help us support further applications for urban regeneration.”

Fine Gael Cllr Peggy Nolan was the first to propose adopting the proposal, something which was swiftly endorsed by Cllr Gerry Warnock.

In likening the move to a similar venture introduced in Lanesboro, Cllr Warnock said the “real gold” would come via the data the new system would provide.

“I think the most recent project out in Lanesboro has worked very well in terms of tourism and the reality is we are living in a digital age where week on week whether we like it or not we are becoming more reliable on technology to get about and meet our personal objectives.”