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Wi-Fi the solution to broadband for all?

Community networks are cheaper and cause less disruption

Community Wi-Fi networks could be the answer when it comes to the problem of offering 2Mbps broadband access to everyone in the UK, says Top 10 Broadband.

Under plans laid out in its Digital Britain report, the government has revealed it wants every resident in the UK to get 2Mbps internet access by 2012. However the scheme is estimated to cost £2.5bn and only £750m will be provided by the government.

According to broadband comparison site Top 10 Broadband a mast-based wireless network is much cheaper to implement than other networks and won't create traffic disruption when being installed unlike the installation of fibre-optic cables and ADSL lines.

A community Wi-Fi network is currently being trialed in the London Borough of Islington www.islington.gov.uk . Created five years ago, the council-funded scheme provides 3,000 of the area's least well-off consumers in social housing with broadband access

"Providing free external internet access along what's now known as the Tech Mile has been a huge success for Islington Council. That's why we've continued to build on the project and are now targeting service delivery into the homes of social housing residents using broadband over powerline," said Islington Council project manager Andrew Barker.

"We've fielded amazing feedback from residents who have already benefited from free broadband access in their home and, as a result, we aim to deliver the service to an increasing number of targeted residents."

Jessica McArdle, marketing manager at Top 10 Broadband, said: "It seems ludicrous that in an age of mobile technology we're contemplating digging up roads at huge expense and inconvenience to install networks when a cheaper solution may be at hand. Wi-Fi is cheap, has been shown to be a proven technology and is perfect for ensuring universal access to broadband in cities."

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