Mullingar Town Park is one area where free WiFi is available.

Free WiFi hotspots to be extended across Westmeath

Free WiFi hotspots, offering download speeds of at least 30 Mbps, are due to be put in place across a number of towns, villages, and visitor attractions in Westmeath by the end of August.

The council is currently tendering for a contractor to install the public internet at 35 outdoor and nine indoor access points around the county.

Half of the €120,000 funding for the initiative is being provided through a European Union WiFi4EU programme, with the remainder coming from the Department of Rural and Community Development.

Westmeath County Council previously announced the roll-out of public WiFi access points at 17 locations in Westmeath in 2017.

Simon McCabe, head of Information Systems with the local authority, said the current project would “further increase the number of free public WiFi access points” in the county.

“The aim of the WiFi4EU initiative is to support the provision of free WiFi access points in public areas of high footfall, such as public administrations premises, health centres, public parks and squares. It aims to provide a high-quality internet service, free of charge, in these public spaces,” he said.

Companies can bid to carry out the work until February 5, and the contract is then set to start at the end of March. The WiFi is due to be in place at each of the chosen locations by August 27.

Twenty-one of the planned WiFi access points are in the Mullingar Kinnegad district, including nine in the centre of Mullingar town, and others in Mullingar Town Park, Belvedere House and Gardens and Mullingar Tranquillity Gardens.

The other areas in the district which are set to receive public WiFi access points are Castlepollard, Delvin, Kinnegad, Rochfortbridge and Killucan.

In the Athlone area, four outdoor WiFi access points are planned in the centre of Athlone town, between Church Street and Sean Costello Street, with the other access points earmarked for the Luan Gallery, Athlone Marina, Athlone Regional Sports Centre, Athlone Castle and Burgess Park.

Elsewhere in the Municipal District of Athlone Moate, the contractor is due to install WiFi access points at Dún Na Sí Amenity and Heritage Park and the Tuar Ard Arts Centre in Moate, as well as in Ballymore, Kilbeggan and Ballynacargy.

Tendering documentation for the project states that the free WiFi provided must offer “at least 30 Mbps download speeds” and must be able to “handle at least 50 concurrent users without performance degradation.”

The contractor must make each WiFi access point operational, and the contract will also involve “support and licensing of the network” for a three-year period.

“Providing our citizens and business community with ‘access to fit for purpose digital infrastructure’ is one element of our County Westmeath Digital Strategy 2020-2024 vision, and the provision of free WiFi, under the WiFi4EU initiative will act as a real enabler for this,” stated Mr McCabe.