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Free wifi to come to Tower Hamlets in £1.75m project

PUBLISHED: 14:55 16 August 2017

The free wifi will help people get online on a variety of devices

The free wifi will help people get online on a variety of devices

Archant

Free wifi is set to come to town centres and social housing across the borough after the council set aside £1.75million for the scheme.

Mark Lewis (Picture: Kois Miah/Tower Hamlets Council)Mark Lewis (Picture: Kois Miah/Tower Hamlets Council)

The investment, which has been approved by cabinet members, will feature a phased roll-out, with the first areas – Brick Lane, Watney Market and Chrisp Street - due to receive the wifi by autumn next year.

More than 800 businesses and 130,000 residents living within an 800m radius of the town centres will be able to connect to the internet for free.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said: “Investing to make Tower Hamlets a free wifi borough will make the internet more accessible for everyone and will particularly help groups who currently struggle to afford internet access themselves and who often most need the opportunities it opens up.

“We want to change that by breaking down digital barriers. At the same time we will provide training sessions for residents and businesses to help them get the best out of this new service.”

It is estimated that the average cost of wifi in London is around £18 a month, with families on low incomes finding it unaffordable - in Tower Hamlets, 24 per cent of low income families do not have access to wifi.

In addition, 45pc of those over 50 and 40pc of people with disabilities living in the borough do not have access.

The move is set to help people looking for jobs, such as 50-year-old Mark Lewis, of Limehouse.

He said: “At the moment, I cannot afford to pay for wifi where I live so I end up using data on my phone which runs out quickly and is expensive.

“If I have to use it in an emergency such as to applying for a job and I have no data, I have to travel each way for an hour to the library to use the computers.”

The council is set to work with a provider and housing assiciations to carry out training and help people unfamiliar with the internet to get online.

Training will be available at Idea Stores across the borough from October.

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