Tyneside neighbours Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead have unveiled plans to provide free Wi-Fi across public areas. Spanish-based GOWEX, which has worked on wireless 'smart city' projects in the Americas and Middle East as well as across Europe, announced it had a contract to install connection hotspots by the start of 2015.
Newcastle City Council's Go Digital Newcastle scheme, designed to boost the local economy, is funded by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).
City council leader Cllr Nick Forbes said: "People will be able to connect to the Wi-Fi hotspots around city and town centre, high streets and public buildings - free of charge. It means they can check their emails, compare prices, select restaurants, book tickets and access public information on the move."
Cllr Malcolm Graham, Gateshead Council's cabinet member for employment and skills added: "This is a fantastic boost for businesses, visitors and residents. This scheme offering free Wi-Fi in key public areas confirms our commitment to being at the forefront of the digital revolution."
Installation work - and maintenance - will be carried out by council staff in Gateshead and by the current streetlight contractors in Newcastle. "We're pleased with this arrangement, because it means our installation is being done by local workers who know the area, and have the knowledge, equipment and training to do the work to a high standard," Forbes said.
Communications minister Ed Vaizey said: "The funding that government has made available to Newcastle will see free Wi-Fi spots pop up in public areas across the city, allowing everyone access to broadband while on the move, and is all part of the remarkable transformation of connectivity currently underway."