Prague Zoo, Botanical Gardens to get free WiFi

The city is expanding its initiative to spread the internet to public spaces

Prague will launch a public WiFi network in the Prague Zoo and nearby Botanical Gardens. It should should start operating in about five months. City Hall approved the project and will spend about Kč 11 million on it.

The WiFi network should cover the most-frequented parts of both places, and have some reach to most areas. Connection speed will vary at different locations, but should be the strongest near public transportation and restaurants where the data capacity will be greater due to higher expected demand.

The company Alef Nula was the only one to enter the competition for the contract to provide the service.

According to state agency CzechTourism, the Prague Zoo was the third-most visited attraction in the Czech Republic, with 1.4 million people coming in 2016. The Botanical Gardens did not make the top 20.

Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) said that the move is part of the city's Smart Prague initiative.

“We have committed to providing WiFi in some public areas. The first we chose are the Prague Zoo and the Botanical Gardens,” she said.

There have also been a handful of smart benches installed around the city as a pilot project. These have WiFi and USB ports, and are solar powered. The benches are also part of the Smart City concept. The range of the benches is limited though.

WiFi was recently introduced at tram stops as part of an initiative by the city along with advertising firm JCDecaux, which places advertising in tram stops. No city funds went into that project. By the end of the year, 300 tram stops should be covered.

The mayor previously stated that the WiFi network should be extended to other places such as Petřín and the Vltava waterfront (Náplavka), and if the program is popular then eventually Letná and Stromovka.

The funicular in Petřín in 2016 was the second-biggest attraction in the country, according to CzechTourism, with 1.5 million visitors. The Petřín Tower was in 10th place nationwide.

The Prague Transport Company (DPP) is also planning to launch internet at the metro stations and vestibules. It has already launched WiFi in some newer model trams, and will add more WiFi equipped trams as the fleet is renewed..

The Smart City project extends beyond WiFi to other ares such as charging stations for electric cars, electric buses, parking sensors and energy use monitoring.

Other cities in the Czech Republic are also part of the Smart City concept, and can receive EU funds for some projects.

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