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Mixed reaction to government plans for wi-fi in public buildings

Thursday, November 6th 2014 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The Government’s decision to fund free wi-fi in museums, libraries and art galleries is dividing public opinion.

Communications minister Ed Vaizey announced last week that funds from the £150m SuperConnected Cities programme were being used to turn 1,000 public buildings across the UK into wi-fi hotspots.

Cable.co.uk spoke to visitors at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London, to find out what they thought about the project.

Student Rosie Wyatt-Jones said she didn’t know free wi-fi was available in the gallery. “I don’t think I would use the wi-fi because I have 3G,” she said.

“It would be helpful I was using a laptop, but not on my phone. There are more useful things the money could be spent on.”

Soma, who is originally from Kyrgyzstan, said: “I don’t think it’s much use in a gallery because you’re there to look at the portraits.

“I get quite annoyed when I’m in a museum and people are on their phones. On the underground it would be very useful but here, I don’t think so.”

Rupert, who is retired, said: “I’ve just used the wi-fi, it was alright.

“I was looking up how to become a member because I come here a lot.

“I think it’s a good use of public funds, you can’t have anything today without wi-fi I find, otherwise people are struggling with their 3G or whatever.

“It’s the same in Tate Modern and Tate Britain, and at the Royal Academy.”

Joyce, from Wiltshire, said: “I think it’s a good use of public money but I don’t think we would have access to it with my ancient phone.

“If I had the technology I would use it as long as it’s secure. I think I would use it to get more information about what I was seeing.

“If you haven’t got the car handy you might wanting to look at transport times, and you could use it instead of a guidebook because often they are very expensive.”

Entrepreneur Gabriel Reyes said: “I think free wi-fi is a good use of public money because it allows you to find out information about the paintings.”

Jelle, a visitor from Bulgaria, said she had used the gallery’s network to get on social media.

“It was fast and it didn’t interrupt me for as long as I was connected,” she said.

“I think it’s useful, no-one will go into the building just for the wi-fi but it makes sense as an extra benefit.”

Greg, from Germany, said: “In Germany we don’t have that much free wi-fi, apart from in a few restaurants, so I really enjoyed connecting and sharing.

“I have been using it to look for information and directions.”

Additional reporting by Hannah Langston.

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