A free public access Wi-fi system has just gone live in St Neots - and is set to be rolled out into Huntingdon, St Ives and Ramsey.
CambWifi has been provided by Cambridgeshire County Council, with support from Huntingdonshire District Council and additional funding for market towns from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.
The secure system is part of the Connecting Cambridgeshire project, designed to recognise the importance of digital connectivity for the community, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
In St Neots CambWifi can now be accessed in the Market Square, the High Street and New Street up to the museum. It is also available in the town’s library.
Huntingdonshire District Council Leader Cllr Ryan Fuller said: “This is a significant step for Huntingdonshire and a vital part of our digital strategy, working with Connecting Cambridgeshire, to help make our market towns fit for the future and to ensure their long-term prosperity.
“St Neots is the biggest market town in the county and it has a bright future.”
Cllr Fuller said: “The launch of free CambWifi follows HDC’s £12 million St Neots transformation bid and the news that the town is the first in Huntingdonshire set to benefit from future-proof fibre to the premises broadband technology over the next two years as part of Openreach’s Fibre Cities programme.”
Cllr Stephen Ferguson, mayor of St Neots, said: “I am delighted that the county council and the combined authority have extended CambWifi to St Neots, which will allow residents and visitors to browse the internet for free while visiting our lovely town.
“As we strive towards a more connected society, this investment will make St Neots a more pleasant place to shop, work and play, and will mean that anyone with access to a mobile phone, tablet or computer can connect to the internet without incurring expensive data costs.”
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority mayor James Palmer said: “Public access Wi-fi has an important part to play in supporting struggling high streets and will help to bolster economic recovery from Covid-19 by encouraging people to shop locally and to support local businesses.”
Cllr Ian Bates, county council chairman of highways and transport, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has made us all more reliant on internet services to keep in touch. It’s vital that people can keep connected to get the support they need, particularly where mobile coverage is poor or people cannot afford internet subscriptions.”
To access CambWifi users need to find CambWiFi_Public in their Wi-fi settings and connect, enter name and email address, accept the terms and register, a new web page will open, then click the login button. The page will refresh and send users to the Connecting Cambridgeshire website’s CambWifi page - if logging in through a mobile phone or tablet users can click “done” to close the screen, but will not be fully logged in.
Users then need to check their email within 10 minutes and verify by clicking “click here” in the email - they may also have to check their junk mail. A new login page will open up and click “connect” to be connected. The system will then log on automatically in a CambWifi location.
A map and list of CambWifi sites across the county, plus frequently asked questions, is at www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk/public-access-wifi .