Edinburgh can’t afford to lose out on better wi-fi

Improving wi-fi services has an important part to play in closing the digital divide in almost any city. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Improving wi-fi services has an important part to play in closing the digital divide in almost any city. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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EDINBURGH has a long history of innovation and today its thriving business community and tourism industry means the being at the forefront of the latest digital technology is crucial to the city’s future.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh has spent over a year publishing its own series of recommendations to the Scottish Government on how broadband infrastructure can be improved – not just in major cities such as Edinburgh but across the whole of Scotland.

A study by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills found that the spectrum – the airwaves over which all wireless communications devices communicate – was worth £52bn to the UK economy in 2011, a figure that the UK government plans to double by 2025.

Improving wi-fi services has an important part to play in closing the digital divide in almost any city, although by itself it only provides a fraction of the overall wireless capability that citizens will increasingly demand. As more and more people get 4G-enabled devices, limitations will be placed on existing networks (including wi-fi), frustrating users with patchy or poor service.

To achieve the depth and range of wireless services that we will all come to expect, investment in wideband infrastructure that can support multiple technologies simultaneously is the new standard.

Towns and cities that support a better invested network will become first adopters of next-generation technologies by removing the need for further investment down the line.

At Wireless Infrastructure Group, we have a track record of making substantial investments into our wireless networks. Aberdeen is now Scotland’s leading city for mobile broadband access following our partnership with Aberdeen City Council to build wireless infrastructure using the city’s lamp-posts as part of a 15-year contract.

A similar 4G network built at street level in Edinburgh would ensure a fast and consistent service for many years to come, even as the number of people using it continues to soar. Edinburgh is just the kind of driving, forward-looking city that has the most to gain from being at the forefront of wireless technology, and the most to lose if it is left behind.

• Craig Birchenough is the director of small cell networks at Wireless Infrastructure Group