The Sunderland street with 'the fastest WiFi in the UK'

Sunderland is now offering the ‘fastest wifi speeds in the county’, according to city bosses.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 12:26 pm
High Street West, Sunderland City Centre
High Street West, Sunderland City Centre

Late in 2019 it was announced Wearside would be the first place in the UK to roll out a 5G-ready WiFi network, offering super fast downloads in the city centre.

And now the system is up and running council chiefs hope to use it as a springboard to overhaul broadband connections for families and businesses across the city.

“We’re the first city in the UK to build an operational 5G WiFi network,” said Patrick Melia, chief executive of Sunderland City Council.

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“McDonalds, in High Street West, although not great from a public health perspective, is one of the fastest in the UK for download speeds.

“If you walk along High Street West and log on to the WiFi network you get the fastest speeds in the country, and we’re now working on how we showcase that and bring it to life.”

Mr Melia was speaking at a meeting of the North East Combined Authority’s Economic Development and Digital Advisory Board.

The current 5G WiFi project in the Keel Square and High Street West area of the city centre allows download speeds of about 1Gigabit per second – which in theory should mean a HD movie can be downloaded in less than a minute.

Council chiefs have also used the scheme to improve internet access in some of Sunderland’s schools and to help Gentoo start rolling out ‘smart home’ technology to some of its properties.

“I have no doubt our digital credentials need to be better,” said Coun Graeme Miller, the leader of Sunderland City Council.

“Government didn’t think it was possible for us to get this done so quickly, just with the application of a bit of common sense.

“Possibly the nature of our city centre allowed it to happen because of the tower blocks, but this is definitely something which must be an integral part of our business going forward.”