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Last Updated: Friday, 6 August, 2004, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
City first for wi-fi connection
Woman using wireless laptop in a station
Wi-fi enthusiasts believe it will revolutionise internet access
Preston has become the first English city to offer comprehensive wire-free internet coverage in the city centre.

The technology, known as wi-fi, means people with laptops and PDAs will be able to surf the web or pick up emails in "hotspots" without cables.

The scheme - which is a joint project between the council and the University of Central Lancashire (Uclan) - has a 60 annual subscription fee.

Last month, Cardiff became the first city in the UK to offer the service.

Michael Ahern, Director of Uclan's Information Systems Department, said the level of the subscription charge meant the service was "inclusive".

"The low cost of the project helps to bridge the digital divide and means more people can afford to get online, making this a scheme that really is available to everyone, " he said.

It is a blueprint other towns and cities across the UK will want to follow
Stephen Parkinson, Preston City Council
Uclan has already established wi-fi connections at its campuses in Lancashire and Cumbria.

The network access points have been installed around the city by wi-fi experts TeleGeneration.

After a successful trial, more than 100 extra access points are to be installed across the city.

Compatible laptop

All 33,000 Uclan students will receive a subscription for the rest of the year.

In order to use the wireless network, people will need a laptop or PDA that has wireless capability; be near a TeleGeneration access point and be a subscriber to the service.

TeleGeneration is offering a free trial on its website.

The project is also being supported by Preston City Council.

Its communication chief Stephen Parkinson said: "The benefits of being a wireless city are massive; there's real community benefit and through our partnership approach we'll be making sure businesses and citizens can get as comprehensive access as possible.

"It is a blueprint other towns and cities across the UK will want to follow."

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