BT has signed a contract with Newcastle City Council, Gateshead Council and BT as part of the Go Digital Newcastle initiative.
Work is expected to commence in summer following the demise of GOWEX, the Spanish firm that was forced to declare bankruptcy last year after its chief executive admitted overstating revenue.
The Wi-Fi project aims to deliver a free service for residents and visitors at “hotspots” on both sides of the river, understood to be high streets and major public buildings.
Cabinet member for investment and development at Newcastle City Council Coun Ged Bell, said: “We’re delighted to announce this new contract with BT.
“Our Go Digital Newcastle project is transforming the city into a digital powerhouse. And now with the investment in free public Wi-Fi, Newcastle will be among a number of cities in the UK that will have this kind of digital infrastructure.
“We’re already increasing fibre broadband coverage across the city, helping residents and businesses to take advantage of super-fast broadband in their homes and premises — and now, residents, businesses and visitors will be able to access free public Wi-Fi in key locations across the city while they’re on the move.”
Farooq Hakim, BT’s regional director for the North East, added: “We are really proud to have been chosen by Newcastle and Gateshead to deliver free-to-use Wi-Fi in the town centres.
“We’re already working with a number of other cities like Glasgow and Cardiff and the networks we have built for them have proven really popular with businesses and shoppers. We hope free Wi-Fi goes down just as well in Newcastle and Gateshead.
“The agreement will also see BT and the cities working together to help mobile operators give Newcastle and Gateshead great coverage.”
Go Digital Newcastle is run by Newcastle City Council and part-funded by the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.
As part of Go Digital Newcastle, businesses in Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside and South Tyneside can apply for free vouchers worth up to £3,000 to get connected to superfast broadband. From April 1, the scheme will be extending to County Durham, Northumberland, Sunderland, Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, and Stockton-on-Tees.