A new free public WiFi network has launched in the UK. Lead by a collective of industry specialists, Freerunner will enable consumers to get free broadband access in underserved and digitally remote areas of the UK’s suburbs by installing free to use access points in both public and commercial venues of any size.
Community-oriented venues, such as indoor/outdoor public spaces, libraries, transport hubs, community centres and schools, will receive the service completely free of charge. In commercial venues, such as coffee shops, pubs, clubs, restaurants and sports stadia, the free access will be largely funded by the venue and its partners. The advantage for commercial venues is that they pay for the service at just a third of the current rate set by other operators. All venues will be able to take advantage of Freerunner’s advanced services allowing them to filter internet content to suit customer needs and prevent phishing attacks.
“Back in 2002, free, open access points were popping up all over the place and there was a real buzz about the potential of public WiFi,” says Owen Geddes, CEO of Freerunner. “Since then, networks have been locked down and access for a day can cost more than your home broadband costs in a month. Our vision is to give consumers free public WiFi access whether they are in the the centre of London, the community centre at the end of their road or the local café in Hartlepool.”
Based on Open Source technology, the Freerunner network represents an evolution in WiFi. It has a distributed network architecture, no data centres and therefore no single point of failure ensuring maximum reliability, a faster connection and a low operating cost.
“Public WiFi has been stuck in a time warp, with niche propositions, a marginal business model and networking principles from last century,” continues Geddes. “Freerunner is bringing the industry up to date with modern distributed networking and a business model that not only makes sense to everybody in the chain but also makes a profit. Freerunner is not just the next generation user experience, it is the next evolution of WiFi.”
NorthStar Equity Investors (NSEI) has invested in the launch of FreeRunner and the North East will be the first to benefit from the roll-out.
Michelle Cooper, Investment Manager for NSEI helped to negotiate the deal. She comments: “Freerunner has developed a much needed service at a point in time when internet availability is a major necessity for many people – not just in the home or office, but on the move as well. This new network means customers can get online in even what appears to be the most unlikely of places.
“We invested through our Proof of Concept Fund because Freerunner is exactly the sort of company that NSEI looks to help to get off the ground. We look forward to seeing the North East benefit from the service, before the national roll out.”