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Bristol – capital of wi-fi

A city centre “hotzone” stretching from the top of Park Street down to St Augustine’s Parade and including the Watershed is one example of how the latest communication technology has been introduced for the benefit of local residents, visitors and mobile workers. Just under two years ago, a number of wi-fi transmitters, known as “StreetNet” were installed in the area so that everyone across some two square miles can access the internet and emails quickly and at anytime – even while outdoors.

There is also an even larger free network operated by the Bristol Wireless community co-operative ( that already covers nearly all of Easton and Lawrence Hill and is now connecting up St Paul’s, St Werburgh’s, Windmill Hill and Knowle with plans for further expansion to Southville and Bedminster. The Watershed and Bristol University both have their own wi-fi networks to enable people to access the internet in their establishments.

In January the future of wi-fi across the city was discussed at a public meeting at the Watershed. This event was the first in a series to engage people in discussion around the technology of today and tomorrow as part of Bristol’s Digital Challenge bid. Pete Ferne, Chairman of Bristol Wireless and one of the speakers at the event explains: “Connectivity is the lifeblood of co-operation. We have seen that wireless can bring people together, improve communication and make it easier to work with one another and share what we care about – whether that’s politics, music, football or anything else. Our network is growing and adapting to the needs and desires of the people using it, both now and in the future.”

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2006 edition of “Bristol News”, published by Bristol City Council’s Corporate Communications Department.