Cork city centre is on course to become one of the most wifi-enabled cities in the country, it emerged yesterday.
Internet service provider Bitbuzz rolled out the first phase of its free wifi service, in partnership with Cork City Council, on St Patrick’s St, the Grand Parade, Paul St and the Lapp’s Quay Boardwalk.
They are the first areas outside Dublin to introduce the innovative Bitbuzz Freedom wifi service.
But Bitbuzz managing director Shane Deasy confirmed that phase two will see the service expanded to cover Oliver Plunkett St, Emmet Place, Winthrop St, Fitzgerald Park and Bishop Lucey Park within six months, and further expansion is planned.
Mr Deasy said his network, which has one million registered users and handles 54% of the public access wifi traffic across the country, has seen an explosion in data consumption since early 2012, fuelled by advances in smartphone and tablet technology.
Nightclubs and pubs, seeking to interact in real-time with their customers through social networking sites, are also driving the expansion of the Bitbuzz Freedom service — an expansion of the Bitbuzz service provided in hotels and cafes around the country.
Mr Deasy said the “freedom service” aims to respond to consumer demand for high-speed internet access in outdoor high-footfall locations — like those key Cork streets covered in phase one of its wifi programme. “Complimentary wifi is becoming paramount as more and more people switch to smartphones,” he said.
Lord Mayor of Cork John Buttimer, a regular tweeter, said the introduction of the free wifi, which was one of the key projects in the city’s tourism strategy, demonstrates the city’s desire to stay ahead of the game in the provision of technological services.
“The city’s visitors’ website www.cork.ie is the home page for this service and will keep visitors and Corkonians alike informed on everything there is to see and do in our city,” he said.
City manager Tim Lucey said services such as these add in a very significant way to the image of Cork as a truly 21st century tech-city.
He said he particularly looked forward to seeing wifi available in city parks.
Bitbuzz hopes to partner with more city centre businesses in the roll-out of the service, and offer them various advertising and “special offers and deals” opportunities for their customers through its network.
Bitbuzz recently announced that it is now recording over 500,000 log-ins a month across Ireland and Britain.
How to get surfing
From your smart phone or tablet device:
Search for a wireless network — there are 44 Bitbuzz hotspots around Cork City.
Click on the Bitbuzz Freedom network.
If you are a first time user, click ‘register’ to create your own account.
You can also choose to log in with your Twitter or Facebook account.
The Bitbuzz Freedom service will give 20 minutes free access to the wifi network which can be extended into another free 20-minute session with the click of a button.
A maximum two-hour daily access limit will apply, to prevent abuse of the system.
More detailed instructions, and a full list of the 450 Bitbuzz locations nationwide are available on bitbuzz.com.
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