Thus Open Access WiFi to Boost Rural Economy

Whether on a lap-top or a web enabled 3G handset, the benefits of being able to access the network of open access hot-spots across the country are apparent to the user. But what can an open access WiFi broadband network actually deliver in terms of real and tangible benefits – whether through increasing social and economic interaction or by providing information and services to locals and visitors alike? That is the question being posed by Jedburgh Free WiFi, an initial 12 month trial of an open access WiFi network that will blanket the centre of this small Borders town.

THUS plc is deploying wireless access services using a high speed internet connection delivered via radio and utilising THUS’s MPLS network core, to create an open access hot-spot in Jedburgh, one of Scotland’s ‘gateway’ towns. The initial trial is being coordinated by the Scottish Borders New Ways Partnership in conjunction with Jedburgh Alliance, with the intention of using the connectivity to attract people into the centre of the town and stimulate community interaction and economic activity in and around town.

It is hoped that the broadband connectivity will increase footfall and spend into the town centre and encourage business travellers and visitors to visit the town raising awareness of local services, accommodation and visitor attractions.

George Burt of Jedburgh Alliance said: “The launch of the open access broadband trial in the town centre coincides with the launch of the town’s new web site. These developments are a result of wide consultations with the council, the Merchants Association and other Alliance members who are seeking to work cooperatively to be creative and innovative in developing ways to not only promote the town economically, but also as a fantastic place to visit for business or leisure. We are confident that the trial will be a boost for tourism and for the many small and diverse businesses which are the fabric of the economy in rural communities.”

Phil Male, Chief Operating Officer at THUS plc said: “The deployment of the Pathfinder South network has created spin off benefits for individuals, companies and wider communities alike in terms of what broadband services they can now access. Open access WiFi in a traditional, rural community modernises the infrastructure as well as the image of the town and will improve the visibility and viability of small businesses and tourist services in the area.”

The creation of the WiFi hotspot has been enabled by the deployment of the Pathfinder South network which was constructed to deliver connectivity to schools and public sector organisations across the South of Scotland. Jedburgh WiFi will be delivered by Radio connectivity initially and onwards across THUS’s UK wide next-generation network.