Tourism boost as free wifi for parks is given go-ahead
DUBLIN parks are set to become internet hubs after the city council approved plans for widespread free wifi.
The ambitious plans to install free public wifi in parks and green spaces will be put to tender in the coming days following a unanimous vote by councillors last night.
The decision, which has been described as a potential boost for tourism, will see parks such as St Stephen's Green and Merrion Square equipped with free wifi facilities.
The proposal was initially put to the council in January by Labour councillor Oisin Quinn. He outlined how the service could be funded by pop-up advertising.
However, a council report outlined how the service could be provided by a commercial company operating under a 'concession' from the council.
The report also recommends that eight to 10 parks and open spaces be used to launch the scheme. In their report, council officials said the service would be cost-effective and that they intended to keep the total cost below €200,000.
They said this would prevent it from breaching European Union rules on State aid, as this is what caused similar plans to be scrapped in 2007.
They explained that it will take at least three months to collect the tenders and select the one that is most viable.
It was also outlined how the service could be extended to other parts of the capital on a temporary basis while large events are being held.
Council officials said users will be allocated an estimated 30 minutes access for each session, and that the wifi will have similar download speeds to a basic broadband service.
Welcoming the move, Cllr Quinn said he hoped the service could be put in place before the Tall Ships Event this summer.
"The Tall Ships event in Dublin, due to be held on August 23, would be a great event to try out the event-specific wifi that we hope can be a feature of the scheme," he said.
He said he put the proposal forward after seeing a similar scheme in Bilbao, Spain.
He added that the service will allow tourists to use navigational apps on their phones, while Dubliners will have access to a number of social networking facilities.