Shoppers and visitors have been enjoying the free, fast and reliable WiFi in Dorchester town centre for the last few weeks and has proved a huge success.
From meeting up with friends via social media, finding out about events, getting directions or paying for parking . . . we rely on a good, stable internet connection to do so much these days.
With 4G and phone coverage patchy in the county town and research showing that one in four people are more likely to stay longer in a town centre if it offers free WiFi, Dorchester Business Improvement District (BID), local councils and Brewery Square have funded the new connection.
The network was installed by Dorset company Fusion WiFi and covers Dorchester’s main shopping streets, Brewery Square and the popular Borough Gardens.
Dorchester BID Project Director Phil Gordon said: “This has been a great example of how a BID can work well in partnership with all the local councils and businesses to achieve a valuable resource for the town.
“We already know it’s useful as during the pre-launch testing phase we have had more than 6,000 logins by over 2,000 unique users. People are not having to eat into their monthly data bundles with the free service . . . especially welcome to those with pay as you go contracts.
“People can now use the internet in town to discover all the shops, attractions and find their way to them easily using Google maps or other on-line products. It should really help with communications in town too, as we will be able to alert users to events taking place that they could otherwise miss.”
Daryl Turner, Dorset County Council Cabinet Member for the Natural and Built Environment, said: “In our increasingly digital age people use and expect social media and internet access as they go about their daily lives. For the most forward looking locations, allowing people to get online is now an important part of the shopping and visitor experience.”
Dorchester Mayor David Taylor said: “In particular we were pleased to work with the team to extend coverage to the Borough Gardens to provide an extra service for the thousands who use the park either for our programme of one-off events or as part of their daily routine.”
West Dorset District Council Portfolio Holder for Enabling Mary Penfold said: “We are delighted to have supported this project. I am sure it will not only benefit residents and visitors to the town, but also the businesses and encourage people to spend more time in the town centre.”
Charlotte Spracklen, Brewery Square Centre Manager, said: “Brewery Square have thoroughly enjoyed working on the Dorchester WiFi project with the Dorchester BID. It’s a fantastic idea to bring free WiFi to residents and visitors when they are out and about shopping, eating and enjoying what Dorchester has to offer. We’re looking forward to continuing to work alongside the BID on this exciting project.”
Dorchester’s free public WiFi is funded by Dorchester BID, Dorset County Council, West Dorset District Council, Dorchester Town Council and Brewery Square.
The service is provided by placing network access points on CCTV columns and building walls. These work together and ultimately hook into the public fibre optic network provided in part by the Superfast Dorset project.
It is available in Brewery Square, Borough Gardens, High West Street, High East Street, South Street, Trinity Street and Charles Street.