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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 May, 2004, 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK
City to become wireless hotspot
Woman using wireless laptop in a station
Picking up emails and surfing the web is being made easier with wi-fi
Cardiff is to become the first city in the UK to offer wire-free internet coverage in central areas of the city.

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

A network of 50 hotspots will operate across the city centre and in Cardiff Bay from the summer.

The service is being set up by a partnership between Cardiff council and BT.

Users will be able to log on to surf the internet or collect and send emails at broadband speeds with a laptop or personal digital assistant (PDA).

Some places in Cardiff such as cafes and hotels have already set up wi-fi hotspots, but this is the first time a local authority has got involved in providing wider access points.

The new hotspots will be based in payphone kiosks and council and commercial premises.

Cardiff can see that more and more people are going to use the internet outside of the office
Owen Evans, BT

The service will be available to subscription and pay-as-you-go customers and Cardiff Council will receive a share of profits generated by the scheme.

Owen Evans from BT told BBC Wales wi-fi could provide a better service to those on the move.

"For people who have used laptops or PDAs over mobile phones, it can be quite slow, it's a bit painful.

"What wi-fi brings to you is you can use it at broadband speeds so it's much more fun to use.

"Cardiff can see that more and more people are going to use the internet outside of the office.

Shoebox

"It's not just work: if you think about the number of tourists who come to Cardiff who can just take a laptop with them, open up over a coffee and think, what can I go and see, what restaurants are there?

"It's all the sort of information you can get at home or in the office but all of a sudden you can get anywhere."

Transmitters the size of a shoebox can be used to set up the hotspot, which have a range of about 50m each, he explained.

"The coverage itself isn't wide so that's why we have to put so many of them up basically because the power's so low," he said.

The partnership is planning to roll out the service from this summer and will be giving demonstrations at points across the city.

Crispin O'Connell, from Cardiff Council, said: " Cardiff is a city on the move and the installation of wireless broadband in 50 locations across the city centre and bay area will give it a unique factor to attract investment and visitors to the area."




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