A city councillor has expressed disappointed at further delays in the rollout of free public wifi in Dundee after it emerged the project will now not be completed before summer 2019.
West End representative Fraser Macpherson called for assurances the service will now be delivered in accordance with new timescales but welcomed the fresh inclusion of 5G in the plans, which would offer faster speeds and more reliability on smartphones.
A scheme offering wireless internet to residents and visitors was initially scheduled to be in place by July 31 this year, with a wider area operational before the official opening of V&A Dundee on September 15.
Further provisions for Union Street, Crichton Street, Castle Street and Reform Street were expected to be operational by September 7, with a permanent set up for Slessor Gardens in place by November 16.
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The Courier revealed in August that a final decision on who will carry out the first phase of the works had still not been made, some 19 weeks after the closure date for tender bids.
Council bosses have now confirmed those plans were “collapsed” and a fresh contract invitation to tender (ITT) has been issued.
An announcement on the successful bid is not expected until at least mid-January.
Mr Macpherson said: “I am disappointed that public wifi has been slower to deliver than originally anticipated and I am absolutely adamant that it must now be up and running in the revised timeframe.
“I certainly won’t hide that disappointment but if there can be a solution found that includes 5G and minimises the impact on utilities and services during the proposed works, I think that would be a positive outcome.”
Mr Macpherson said he believed the 5G aspects of the plan could help “future proof” the city’s wifi infrastructure following a £2 million investment pledge outlined in the Tay Cities Deal to put the region “at the forefront of 5G deployment”.
Bosses at Dundee City Council’s city development department held an industry day on Thursday to ensure its requirements “dovetail with what the market can deliver”.
The department’s team leader said: “It is envisaged that the revised ITT will be released through Public Contracts Scotland in January 2019. Subject to receipt of a compliant bid, it is anticipated that the project will be delivered by summer 2019.”
Paul Jennings, chairman of Visit Dundee, claimed earlier this year that having free public wifi in place for the opening of V&A Dundee “could create real economic benefits” for the city.
The tourism boss said visitors having access to information such as nearby restaurants, shops or other attractions “could be really useful in terms of providing a boost for the local economy”.
A working group established last year involving the council’s IT and city development departments, along with representation from the Scottish Futures Trust, has been working to drive the initiative forward.
Dundee City Council was approached for comment.