Friday, June 01, 2018

High-Fi for Nairn – Free WiFi is rolled out across 14 Highland towns

 Free wifi goes live in Nairn

NAIRN now has access to free WiFi in and around the centre of the town thanks to a project led by the Highland Council and funded by the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal.

The free WiFi, called “High-Fi”, is aimed at stimulating economic growth and will increase digital inclusion across the Highlands. Easy access to digital connectivity is seen as essential if the Highlands region is to be innovative and keep its competitive place in the tourism market.

Allied to this, WiFi also offers the opportunity to gather data to support tourism and the creation of a wireless infrastructure in a town centre allows smart traffic management technology to be utilised.

The first phase was a Pilot in part of Inverness City Centre which was later rolled out to the wider city in early 2017 as Phase 2. The 3rd Phase will see the roll-out of the free WiFi to 14 towns in Highland.

Nairn is among the first of the 14 towns to get free wifi. Additional towns to receive High-Fi during phase 3 of the project include Alness, Aviemore, Dingwall, Dornoch, Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus, Fort William, Invergordon, Nairn, Portree, Tain, Thurso, Ullapool and Wick.

The rollout for all14 towns will be completed by the late spring of 2018, and involves local communities, groups and businesses.

Chair of the Nairn Committee, Councillor Tom Heggie said:

“This project is fantastic news for Nairn and I am sure it will be welcomed by everyone who lives here, as well as visitors. Digital connectivity is essential these days for daily life and the free access to WiFi will enable visitors and locals to make the most of local businesses by checking what’s on, where to visit, opening hours, accommodation and prices, as well as finding job opportunities and keeping in touch with family and friends.

“High-Fi will be great for posting photos of Nairn on social media and helping to promote the town, and all this region offers, to the wider world. I hope to see lots of #NairnHigh-Fi.”

The City-Region Deal sets out the areas where the Scottish Government will commit investment of up to £135m and the UK Government will commit investment of up to £53.1m, which, together with £127m of further investment by the Council and partners, will deliver a step change in digital connectivity, digital healthcare, skills, innovation and infrastructure.

UK Government minister Lord Duncan said:

“Digital connectivity isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. The roll out of free Wi-Fi will help locals and businesses as well as making it easier for tourists visiting picturesque locations such as Nairn to share their experiences with people back home. I am pleased that the UK Government was able to directly support this essential project as part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal funding.”

How to use:
Turn on WiFi on your mobile phone or other device
For High-Fi it shows the town name first e.g. NAIRN_WiFi_Free (High-Fi)
Log-on with either your social media details or by entering your email address
Start enjoying the free WiFi!
For Inverness WiFi go to your wifi settings and select NESS_WiFi_Free

1 comment:

Singing from the same hymn sheet said...

Sorry if I don’t share Mr Heggie’s positive spin but I find his comments naive and, frankly, nonsense and, strangely his statement is almost word for word the same as Chair of the Lochaber Committee, Councillor Andrew Baxter’s (apart from Fort William seems to have many thousands of visitors) statement in the press release on the Highland Council News page. Who’s been putting words in their mouths?

But enough of the conspiracy theories, let’s get back to the reality.

Woopi doo, free wifi in the High Street. According to UK Government minister, Lord Duncan “Digital connectivity isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity”. A statement I fully agree with but how exactly is free wifi in Nairn town centre going to help locals with digital connectivity and increase digital inclusion? It’s great that there is free wifi but, realistically, how practical is it? I’m sure the vision is of someone sitting in a cafe, sipping a trendy wee cappuccino and accessing their favourite web pages or social media – that’s assuming they have a portable device and haven’t dragged their old desktop pc into Ashers. Over a 24 hour period how many people, digitally excluded or otherwise, are anywhere near the High Street? Let’s face it the High Street has, apart from takeaways, very little to offer anyone after 5 o’clock at night and most places are shut. There isn't even a sheltered place where they could go and avail themselves of the service, they could sit on one of the seats in Castle Lane or the corner of Leopold Street, fine when the weather is good but what about when it's wet, cold and dark? Now, not only are they digitally excluded, they’re suffering from hypothermia! Will there be hordes of local folk patrolling up and down the High Street at all hours of the day or night posting photo’s of Nairn or looking for jobs and accommodation?

I don’t know what the object of this roll out is, it’s an idea which, to be honest, is dated and has been overtaken by technological advances such as smart phones where most folk are able to access the information they want in the comfort of their own homes or holiday accommodation and not have to wander about looking for free wifi. Yes, it will benefit a few people but the money might have been better spent giving everyone a phone and broadband contract and creating a web presence and individual web sites for local business’s or organisations.

I’ve also heard that the next big thing coming down the track is Nairn’s very own version of a Pokeman Go type app. Woo hoo, Nairn is joining the 21st century. This could be a great idea but it would need to be continually maintained, invested in and updated. Otherwise I fear this would be a fad which would have a brief flurry of interest but would go the way of many fads such as Hula hoops, Clackers, Marbles, Skipping, Tamagotchis, Rubik cubes, Loom bands and Fidget spinners and folk would move on to the next big thing.

That's the problem with the next big thing, you have to be quick or you'll miss it and because of the nature of the bureaucracy of local and national governments, sadly they frequently do.