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Belfast promises free city-wide Wi-Fi in cash grab hope

Given its website glitches, that public money couldn't come soon enough

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Having scored £6m of central government cash to improve its broadband coverage, Belfast Council hopes to get another £7.7m to rollout free Wi-Fi across the city.

The money comes from the Ministry of Fun, which has given ten UK cities cash to improve their connectivity. But even more money is promised if the cities can demonstrate they'll spend the dosh wisely, which is where the free Wi-Fi offer comes in.

Belfast Council "aims to provide 100 per cent broadband coverage across the city and provide a Wi-Fi infrastructure within the city centre and at transport hubs, conference venues and other key locations" by 2015, if it can get the additional money, and is sinking £3m of its own cash into the project too.

The other nine cities are planning their own strategies to get access to the additional money - although Manchester alone is excluded from the deal (it's getting £12m straight with nothing additional available). Cardiff, for example, is getting £7m initially but is in line for another £5m if it can argue for it, while London's £10m could be bumped to £25m if it can show sufficient need.

Belfast's council isn't just promising municipal Wi-Fi connectivity, and better connection backbones, but also education and training to "provide our citizens with the relevant skills and knowledge to take full advantage of the technology". The council has set up a website where businesses and individuals can register their support for better broadband through government funding. However, when El Reg tried it we got a .NET error message perhaps proving just how urgently that government cash is needed. ®

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