Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Anger as vandals target boosters for Derry Wi-Fi network

Vandals are causing widespread disruption to Londonderry’s recently expanded free wireless network.

The network is available to anyone with a wireless-enabled device such as a laptop, personal digital assistant (PDA) or a Smartphone and is free to use for an hour.

Derry City Council, which has spearheaded the wireless project, said several incidents had disrupted supply to homes and businesses across the city centre.

Over recent months many of the nodes which transfer the network have been disabled or damaged, resulting in a loss of service.

The nodes are physical boosters which distribute and receive wireless signals in a particular area.

It is understood some of the nodes in Derry are located on the exteriors of buildings and CCTV equipment. Nodes are basically a box of electronics with an antenna attached. The vandals have been causing a particular problem at the Fountain estate area just outside the City Walls.

It’s thought various missiles are being thrown at the nodes, putting them out of action.

The damage has come to light just days after mayor of Derry Kevin Campbell unveiled a new online tool to help locals and tourists avail of the Wireless City facility.

The project has been delivering Wi-Fi to businesses, visitors and residents in Derry since 2005.

It was initially concentrated inside the City Walls but has since been expanded to incorporate Guildhall Square, Waterloo Place, Strand Road, Ebrington Square and, most recently, the area stretching from Queen’s Quay and the City Hotel to Sainsburys.

Wireless city project officer for Derry City Council, Louise Breslin, said the repeated attacks were proving to be a real headache.

“This service is essential in maintaining the city’s position at the forefront of delivering first rate digital services, and therefore it is essential that we keep this equipment in operation,” she said.

A local community worker has also appealed for an end to the vandalism being carried out in and around the Fountain area.

Fountain youth club leader Jeannette Warke appealed to young people to be aware of the disruption they are causing.

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