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The city of dreaming wifi-ers
12:00pm Friday 4th October 2013 in News
FREE wifi hotspots will be created in parts of Oxford under a £4.83m broadband boost.
Cowley Road and Summertown will be among areas to benefit from the scheme being overseen by Oxford City Council.
Some £1.5m of the Government cash will go on the wi-fi hotspots, to also include the West End area, Headington and Banbury Road.
A further £3.1m will go to help firms with up to 250 employees connect to superfast broadband.
Each will get £3,000 towards the service, which gives speeds of up to 100 megabits (Mbps) a second.
Firms will still have to pay VAT on the cost and cover the monthly bills.
The government grant to the council also includes £230,000 to put broadband on buses.
The council is to now choose a telecommunications firm to run the wi-fi hotspots.
Oxford City Council leader Bob Price urged firms to apply for the superfast voucher scheme coming in the spring.
The wi-fi scheme will then follow about a year after that.
He added: “We think this scheme is absolutely crucial for many small businesses who rely on superfast broadband for business expansion.”
He cited the city’s publishing industry, a growing video game design industry and business support and accounting firms as those who would benefit.
Some cash will also be spent on boosting broadband at leisure centres and community centres.
But a bid for funding to upgrade internet speeds in residential areas was unsuccessful.
The council will also spend £325,000 of its annual budget to fund staff and specialist resources required for the project.
Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is to provide £325,000 and Oxfordshire County Council £175,000 to the project.
It comes after the county council unveiled £25m of broadband spending in the county in August.
That may give 90 per cent of county homes and firms a minimum speed of 24 Mbps by the end of 2015.