A 5G-enabled public wifi network for Dundee’s Waterfront and city centre could move a step closer next week following a series of delays.
Members of Dundee City Council’s city development committee will be asked on Monday to approve a £1.1 million scheme to deliver the service, as well as a further £10,000 per annum for the next seven years, to operate it.
Councillor Alan Ross, convener of the city development committee, said the network will help Dundee deliver on its ambitions and unlock funding set aside as part of the Tay Cities Deal, for new technology.
He said: “As a council we have an ambition for Dundee to become a smart city with the highest possible level of digital connectivity that will improve quality of life and economic development.
“This 5G testbed and public wifi coverage, as well as the connection to one of our major academic institutions, will help us to deliver on that ambition.
“It will also help us to develop a robust business case to unlock the £2 million assigned in the Tay Cities Deal for using this type of technology. Taken together this activity will put the city in a leading position in this area.”
Recommended contractors AWTG Limited will deliver the infrastructure needed to provide the free wifi and 5G testbed, including the supply and installation of fibre in the central Waterfront and a fibre connection to Abertay University.
As part of the plan to be considered by committee members on Monday, AWTG will also extend public wifi coverage to the city centre at no additional cost to the council.
The fibre backed network will provide significantly faster data download and upload speeds, with connections that are up to twenty times faster than currently available.
The networks will also provide the infrastructure needed to carry large amounts of data. It is expected the main works within the central Waterfront area will be completed by the end of the year.
Previous plans to introduce free wifi for the waterfront and city centre in time for the opening of V&A Dundee in September were delayed over fears the technology might have become obsolete shortly after it was installed.
West End Liberal Democrat councillor Fraser Macpherson, who has been at the forefront of the campaign to introduce free wifi in Dundee since 2014, stressed the new service should be “as future proof as possible – the most modern, and usable”.
A report commissioned by infrastructure experts the Scottish Futures Trust last year found investing in 5G networks across Scotland could increase the country’s GDP by around £17 billion.