TAKING on a huge task, two innovative entrepreneurs will roll out free wireless internet to the public in Chichester city centre.
Bognor-based 24-year-olds Toby Hooton and Alex Mills plan to launch blanket wifi in the city on September 15.
This means residents and visitors will be able to link up to the internet in most public places inside the city walls, at no cost.
“We’re two local guys with a vested interest in improving our local area,” said Toby.
The pair, who run an international connectivity company, Conxserv, are self-funding the project, which they hope will eventually attract support from businesses.
“People spend more and more time on their phones and iPads,” said Alex.
He said rolling out free internet would bring more people into the city centre, such as students, who will be able to work on their laptops in Priory Park or on the cathedral green.
This, in turn, would help local businesses, by increasing footfall in the city, and boosting the local economy in the long run, according to the pair.
Alex said this increase in footfall would mean ‘more revenue for the businesses in the city centre’.
Toby said: “We’re quite passionate about making this work, we’re investing our time, money and effort.
“In the UK we are so slow, we really need to get ahead of ourselves and move forward.”
Rolling out free wireless internet throughout the city will make Chichester one of the first in the country to do so, certainly in the southeast.
“We need to be doing something in this area to support this kind of economy,” said Toby.
He also hopes to promote events and businesses in the city, with offers and information on the main web page when users log in.
Another part of their vision is to connect businesses in the city to high-speed broadband, which they say will give the businesses a boost.
The pair are currently installing 15 to 20 wireless internet boxes across the city centre to cover all the car parks and public areas and all the main streets.
“In time we will look at growing it to the outskirts of the city,” said Toby.
For users, Toby and Alex said connecting to the city’s wireless internet would be simple.
Internet lovers need to create an account free of charge the first time they log in. After that, phones and laptops should connect automatically, or with a prompt.
Toby said: “We understand people are going to be sceptical, but we wanted to do something really positive.”
For more information about the project, visit www.openaircomms.com and for regular updates on the project, follow the pair on Twitter at www.twitter.com/openaircomms