Connecting Cymru - WiFi rollouts continue in Wales

Free internet connection for patients, visitors and staff at three of Wales’s seven health boards

The UK’s leading public WiFi provider, The Cloud, has announced two new WiFi partners from the healthcare industry.

Adding to its 1000-plus WiFi locations in Wales, the company now provides a fast and free connection to Aneurin Bevan and Cwm Taf health boards. It has also begun a trial with the North Wales Information Services (NWIS) which supports NHS Wales in the delivery of IT. The deals follow an earlier rollout in October 2013 at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board (ABM) and will see free WiFi made accessible to over 1.7 million patients every year.

For us, it’s about providing people with a comfortable experience. People need to be connected; it is our responsibility to make that happen

Driven by a booming mobile market in which two in five UK adults now own a smartphone, WiFi usage in the UK has grown dramatically. Wales, in particular, has witnessed a dramatic rise in the last 12 months, with the public spending more than 140 million minutes online, via The Cloud, in May 2014 compared with just over 50 million minutes in May 2013. Aneurin Bevan and Cwm Taf is responding by partnering with The Cloud to let patients and visitors go online to browse or shop, access emails, and log in to Facebook or any other online service.

Drew Evans, head of ICT at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said: “Over the last couple of years, we have noticed an influx of mobile devices at our hospitals and other locations. It’s not only patients using tablets to watch TV or use social media; visitors also need access, whether to update family or pass time while waiting. For us, it’s about providing people with a comfortable experience. People need to be connected; it is our responsibility to make that happen.”

In addition to providing patients and visitors with WiFi, staff at these locations will also be able to access the network. As more and more healthcare is taken online, the use of mobile devices, such as tablets, on wards has become more common. Carrying and using the technology as part of their job means medical staff have instant access to test results, X-Rays, MRIs and all manner of information, helping them provide a better overall service.

For us, it’s about providing people with a comfortable experience. People need to be connected; it is our responsibility to make that happen

John Hunt, head of ICT at Cwm Taf University Health Board, said: “We’ve listened to our patients, visitors, staff and students who have been asking for improved access to the internet at our hospital sites. We have overlaid The Cloud onto our existing secure WiFi hardware, which will be available across all major estates by the middle of 2014. This means that everyone will have free internet access via their own devices without compromising the security of our existing systems.”

Vince Russell, managing director at The Cloud, added: “People often rely on 3G to access the internet from their mobile device. The problem is that coverage can be patchy and the demand on the 3G and 4G networks is so high that they cannot provide the speeds needed to satisfy people wanting to stream video or use other online services. It’s this kind of connection users want. In the digital age, the ability to go online is a necessity not a luxury.”

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