Is Littlehampton seafront going to get wifi?

Visitors to Littlehampton could soon be surfing by the surf.

Wednesday, 8th June 2016, 10:00 am
Updated Thursday, 9th June 2016, 11:54 am
Littlehampton seafront could soon be providing free wifi. Pic Steve Robards SR1616091 SUS-160706-172657001

Free wi-fi could be on offer along the seafront if Littlehampton Town Council takes the web close to the waves.

As well as strolling along the Prom, people could log onto the internet to check their emails, read the news and, perhaps, add a seaside photo to their Facebook page.

The system could also be used to advertise local businesses and encourage tourists into the town centre. It would enable Littlehampton to brand itself as a ‘Wifi town’.

About £25,000 would be needed to set up and run the service in the first year, some of which could be recouped through advertising, town clerk Peter Herbert says in a report to be discussed by councillors on Monday.

He cautions the policy and finance committee: “There are a wide range of options to progress a Wifi service and it is a potential minefield if the wrong option is chosen.”

Town council officers have been given initial guidance by a company, Regional Network Solutions (RNS), which advises councils looking to set up a wifi service for visitors.

Among the options are using a telecommunications network provider to set up the system, or extending coverage of the council’s own wifi.

However, both alternatives have some drawbacks, with network providers offering one-year trials but then making high charges in future years, while there would be risks involved in the council making its system open to the public, with potentially high costs to ensure it was monitored properly and registered for data protection.

Mr Herbert says it could make sense for Littlehampton to follow Eastbourne’s ‘very successful’ example and install wifi equipment on CCTV poles or street lighting columns along its seafront, rather than in the town centre, where a number of free wifi hubs are already provided by businesses and networks.

If the committee decides to take the matter further, Mr Herbert points out that it needs to decide where the wifi should be set up and what coverage should be provided, over, say, 200-300m. Arun District Council would need to be approached as the owner of lighting columns and CCTV poles and RNS could be asked for more advice, at a cost.

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