Wifi company to profit from public assets

Derry City Council and Roads Service will allow a private operator use publicly funded street furniture to turn a profit from a proposed city-wide wireless communication network over the next decade, it’s been revealed.

The local authority has started the procurement process to identify the operator for its proposed ‘Wireless Derry’ project.

It’s currently inviting expressions of interest from ‘appropriately qualified’ candidates.

According to a new Council ‘Project Information Memorandum’ interested candidates must return a ‘pre-qualification questionnaire’ by noon on May 9.

The reward for the successful bidder - once the multi-stage procurement process is completed - will be a five to ten year concession contract with Derry City Council, in partnership with Roads Service.

The operator will be allowed to rent publicly funded street infrastructure and pocket any profit it makes on a proposed city-wide wireless communications network.

“The structure of the Wireless Derry contract will be that of a concession agreement, i.e. the Council, in partnership with DRD Roads Service, will grant an operator the exclusive right to use publicly owned street furniture to develop a wireless communications network,” the memo explains.

“Rather than pay the operator for providing the network, the Council will transfer the opportunity to exploit the market to the operator.

“Revenue from fees paid by third party users to the operator will then be used to pay the rental for use of the assets, meet any other costs incurred and to make an allowable level of profit. The Council proposes to enter into a concession contract with the successful Candidate for a period of between 5 and 10 years, with appropriate break clauses through the contract term and the potential for extensions where appropriate,” it adds.

The project is part of the wider Super-Connected Cities Programme (SCCP), a central government scheme to improve broadband infrastructure in larger UK cities.