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Highland Council wi-fi project shortlisted for Connected Britain Award

By Andrew Dixon

Inverness Provost Helen Carmichael marks the roll out of the free wi-fi in Inverness city centre.
Inverness Provost Helen Carmichael marks the roll out of the free wi-fi in Inverness city centre.

The Highland Council has been shortlisted in the Connected Britain Awards for the free outdoor public wi-fi project in 17 locations across the region.

Access to digital connectivity is seen as essential if the region is to be innovative and keep its competitive place in the tourism market and support the Highland economy.

The council delivered a public wi-fi network in Inverness city centre, called Ness Wi-Fi, which is free for all users and has no restrictions on time, providing access to fast, safe, efficient internet connectivity. The project has benefitted visitors, local businesses and residents and students, often bridging the gap for people who either have poor access or no access to internet connectivity.

Free wi-fi, branded High-Fi, has since been installed in several other locations including Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus, and Nairn.

The project forms part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal which is a joint initiative supported by up to £315 million investment from the UK and Scottish governments, the council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and University of the Highland and Islands, aimed at stimulating sustainable regional economic growth.

Council leader Margaret Davidson said: “Digital connectivity is essential these days for everything we do and free access to wi-fi will enable visitors and locals to make the most of local businesses, as well as finding local job opportunities and keeping in touch with family and friends. I am delighted to hear this project has been shortlisted for the Connected Britain Awards which highlights the importance of this work in improving connectivity across the Highlands.”

Scottish secretary David Mundell said: “It’s fantastic that this UK government-funded project is in the running for such a prestigious award.

“With the roll out of free town wi-fi now complete, local residents, businesses, and visitors across the region are benefitting from the boost to their connectivity.

“I am glad to see such great progress being made on projects that the UK government has funded with our £53 million investment in the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal.”

The council is also working with the NHS, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish National Heritage, Scottish Government to identify collaboration and best practices and potential funding and opportunities for the project moving forward.

Award winners will be announced in London on June 18.

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