Excitement as free Wi-Fi launched in Lowestoft town centre

Kay Bonning-Schmitt, ESC economic development project officer, Dan Coombes, Proximity Futures, Morag

From left to right Kay Bonning-Schmitt, ESC economic development project officer, Dan Coombes, Proximity Futures, Morag McInnes, ESC economic development business and enterprise lead, Brendan Gannon, Proximity Futures, Cllr Craig Rivett, ESC deputy leader, Nick Khan, ESC strategic director, Nasima Begum, Lowestoft TC deputy mayor, Ami Mullen, Lowestoft BID, Danny Steel, chair of Lowestoft BID, Mags Lambert, ESC project manager, and Alice Taylor, Lowestoft town councillor, at the launch of free Wi-Fi in Lowestoft. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Lowestoft has become the first East Suffolk town to have free Wi-Fi in its town centre - with more towns expected to benefit in the near future.

As part of the launch in the town today (March 6) councillor Craig Rivett, East Suffolk's cabinet member for economic development and regeneration, was present alongside representatives of Lowestoft Town Council, Lowestoft BID and project officers at Station Square.

Initially piloted in Framlingham in 2019, the free public Wi-Fi has now been launched in the main shopping areas of Lowestoft, as well as the seafront areas with an ambition for other market towns to follow later this year.

Kay Bonning-Schmitt, ESC economic development project officer, Dan Coombes, Proximity Futures, Morag

Lowestoft now has free Wi-Fi throughout the town centre. - Credit: Danielle Booden

It is part of East Suffolk Council's digital towns programme which aims to digitally transform market towns through the installation of free public Wi-Fi, digital footfall counters and town marketing platforms alongside a business support programme.

The new technology will enable the council to understand the number of visitors to the town, the busiest periods, the average time people spend in the town centre and much more.

This will enable the council's Economic Development Team to provide tailored support for local businesses and provide data-based evidence to support other ongoing projects.

Supported by funding from the Getting Building Fund and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s Innovative Projects fund, this new technology will be combined with bespoke business support, helping local businesses and the towns in which they are based, to grow.

Cllr Craig Rivett, ESC deputy leader, at the launch of the free Wi-Fi in Lowestoft. Picture: Daniell

Councillor Craig Rivett, East Suffolk Council deputy leader, at the launch of the free Wi-Fi in Lowestoft. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

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Mr Rivett said: "The pilot scheme used in Framlingham in 2019 was very successful so we thought why don't we just roll it out across the districts.

"The free Wi-Fi launched in Lowestoft today [May 6] and then next month it will be launched in Felixstowe and then the rest of the towns including Woodbridge and Southwold the month after and then Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth, Aldeburgh, Saxmundham and Leiston by October 2022."

Councillor Stephen Burroughes, East Suffolk's cabinet member for customer services, operational partnerships and digital transformation, talked about the geographical spread of the Wi-Fi coverage saying: “The Wi-Fi zone will extend from the seafront to the town centre, including Kirkley High Street and the Triangle and make it easy for visitors and local people to get online when out and about. It is a digital scheme which we are really proud of.”

Mr Rivett went on to highlight the benefits the free Wi-Fi will provide for visitors and businesses.

"For business it will provide them data for when it is the most busiest time of day and organisations like Lowestoft Vision will be able to see how successful local events are.

"For residents, shoppers and visitors they will get a whole wealth of information from the local area such as promotions and events like the First Light Festival."

Danny Steel, chair of Lowestoft BID. Picture: Danielle Booden

Danny Steel, chair of Lowestoft BID. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

Building on the experience provided for businesses and visitors, Danny Steel, chairman of Lowestoft Vision, said: "The digital towns programme is a great boost to Lowestoft business.

"Not only will shoppers and visitors to Lowestoft enjoy free connectivity, but we will also have the helpful information and marketing that can be used to support our high street.

"This is a great example of the local authority and business working together for the greater good.”

alan green

Alan Green, Mayor of Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

Councillor Alan Green, Mayor of Lowestoft, added: “Lowestoft Town Council is delighted to be part of this new scheme which aims to help residents, visitors and businesses connect with each other. 

"This new technology will help us understand how people use the town so we can improve services as well as signposting residents and visitors to the many exciting events that Lowestoft has to offer.”

Free public Wi-Fi is now available in Lowestoft. Picture: Danielle Booden

Free public Wi-Fi is now available in Lowestoft. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

As well as the free Wi-Fi provision in Lowestoft, East Suffolk Council is working in partnership with an interactive walking app provider, Go Jauntly to develop outdoor adventures across all of East Suffolk’s principle 12 towns and villages.

Three trails launched in Lowestoft at the same time the free-to-use Wi-Fi was launched and will encourages walkers to discover more about the town.