Swansea’s status as a truly digital city has received major a boost, with the City Centre being the first in Wales to benefit from the free InLinkUK from BT service, which already has more than 148,000 subscribers across the UK. It offers the UK’s fastest free public wi-fi, fast, free charging, plus a range of digital services, including local authority and community information.
The first six InLinks have been installed in and around Swansea’s city centre, with the first now live in Princess Way, outside the Tiger store. The InLinks will provide ultrafast wi-fi speeds of up to one gigabit per second (1Gbps), the fastest free public wi-fi service available in the UK. The InLinks also provide free phone calls to UK landlines and mobiles, rapid mobile device charging, the BT Phone Book app, as well as easy access to charity helplines.
Swansea BID has been instrumental in bringing the project to fruition, and BID Chair, Juliet Luporini, said: “We are very pleased that Swansea is blazing a trail with the installation of the InLinks and its services throughout the City Centre. Swansea is undergoing its biggest and most exciting era of regeneration and modernisation at the moment, which you can see unfolding as we speak. This initiative goes hand in glove with the over-arching drive to make Swansea an area of digital excellence, and it is very positive that visitors and those who live and work in the City Centre will have access to the fastest free public wi-fi available in the UK.”
InLinks mean more space on pavements, as on average, each InLink replaces two BT payphones, with around 24 set to be removed in Swansea. BT’s iconic red phone boxes will remain. BT InLlink have worked closely with partners in Wales to ensure that the new InLinks will shortly support both Welsh and English languages, including the community information and the tablet.
Swansea’s local community are also benefiting from the InLink’s digital displays that display real-time information, including the weather forecast and other local information. Each InLink provides more than 1,000 hours of local messaging a year, acting as a community notice board for the local area. These services are provided to the community at no public cost, as the project is funded by advertising revenue. Jeremy Smitham, BT’s general manager of customer operations performance and BT Wales board member, said: “This launch in Swansea brings the fastest free public wi-fi in the UK to the city. Residents and visitors alike are set to benefit from this new state-of-the-art ‘phone box’, where they can also make calls for free, access local information and even charge their ‘phone when out and about.”
One of the InLink’s newest features is its free one-touch lifelines to four national charities. Free calls can be made via the tablet to Childline, End Youth Homelessness, Runaway Helpline and Samaritans. The InLinks are also accessible, offering additional digital services, including for those who have sight and visual impairments.