ULLAPOOL 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 latest town to go live sees a unique collaboration involving five organisations from all sectors of the economy in Ullapool.
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 Highland 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 of the free WiFi project 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 is seeing the roll-out of free WiFi to 14 towns across Highland.
Additional towns to receive High-Fi during phase 3 of the project have included Alness, Aviemore, Dingwall, Dornoch, Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus, Fort William, Invergordon, Nairn, Portree, Tain. Work is currently underway to extend the free wifi coverage in Thurso and Wick.
The rollout involves local communities, groups and businesses.
Ben Williams at the Ullapool Community Trust said: “This rollout is unique, in that it is the first in the Highlands to secure it’s backhaul access from a community interest company, Highland Community Broadband. The project has also taken a partnership approach with The Ullapool Harbour Trust and the Ullapool Community Trust, who have provided the access points and power supplies. Rapier Systems have delivered the installation and support of the wireless system making the collaboration truly one of a kind.
“The free Wi-Fi is designed to take some of the strain from increases in tourist numbers and give some respite to businesses who are seeing their own Wi-Fi over stretched. Locals can also log onto the network to receive updates about events in and around the Highlands as well as for basic browsing needs.”
The public Wi-Fi is set to cover the main crossroads at the front of the village leading on to the pier. The majority of Argyle Street and Quay Street are to be covered by the street level access as well as the ferry car park. There is also opportunity to extend the network if the roll-out is well received.
Chair of the Ross and Cromarty Area Committee, Councillor Fiona Robertson said:
“This project is fantastic news for Ullapool and I am sure it will be welcomed by everyone who lives here, as well as our many thousands of 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 in the area, opening hours, accommodation and prices, as well as finding local job opportunities and keeping in touch with family and friends.
“High-Fi will be great for posting photos of our stunning scenery on social media and helping to promote Ullapool, and all this region offers, to the wider world. I look forward to seeing people using the hashtag #High-Fi-Ullapool.”
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 Ullapool 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. Ullapool_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