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BT wins contract to install free Wi-Fi in Cardiff city centre

BT has won another contract - to install free public Wi-Fi across Cardiff's city centre. The firms will also be boosting the Welsh capital's 3G and 4G networks which will then be sold onto mobile operators on a wholesale basis.

The new outdoor network will initially cover the busiest areas for tourism, commerce and leisure in the heart of the city centre, bringing free connectivity to more than 1.4 million residents, hundreds of businesses and almost 19 million annual visitors across the city. It will later be extended to include the Cardiff Bay area in 2014.

Rather ominously, in BT's press release it says: "Initially, access to the Cardiff Council Wi-Fi service will be free and unlimited to all, whilst BT Broadband customers will always be able to get free, unlimited usage," so its looking like that, at the very least, there's going to be a usage cap applied soon.

BT has been handed the contract to manage the network, which will form part of the Super Connected Cities Project, for ten years. This will give BT monopoly access to Cardiff's lamp posts "and other street furniture", allowing BT, and BT alone, to install new mobile infrastructure.

The 3G and 4G infrastructure could significantly improve the availability, speed, reach and strength of 3G and 4G mobile services, the firm added.

Cabinet Member for Finance and Economic Development, Russell Goodway, said: "These wireless technologies will add to the ongoing investment in fibre broadband that BT is making across Cardiff and give the city a real competitive edge when it comes to attracting new visitors and businesses.

"This will also significantly improve the speed, reach, strength and reliability of 3G and 4G mobile services offered to mobile and smart device users."