MAASTRICHT. Since this week, everyone can have free Internet access, with WhatsApp, e-mail or Facebook on the Vrijthof. The Maastricht city council, Vodafone and MUMC+ launched this one-year experiment last Tuesday. The project costs 100 thousand euro (50 thousand for the city, the remainder being shared between the other two partners). Maastricht University is not participating because it believes that money that is meant for research and education should not be used to finance utilities. MUMC+ is participating because of a “content-specific motivation,”, MUMC board member Frits van Merode states. “We are partners. This initiative fits in with the developments in medical science. More and more medical treatments are focused on the individual and in that respect we are increasingly using E-resources.”
Signs on the Vrijthof and beer mats with ‘Free Wi-Fi Vrijthof’ on the tables of the adjacent sidewalk cafes will inform visitors. The user will not be confronted with advertisements, said alderman John Aarts during a press conference, and “privacy is guaranteed”. There is no password required. Anyone who wishes to use the network, only needs to accept the General Terms and Conditions.
Aarts does not expect the technology to become overloaded during large events such as the André Rieu concerts and the opening of the Carnival season. “In the worst case, the connection will be slower.”
Grinning, after a question from the audience: “This is not an election stunt. We wanted to launch this last November, but the supplier couldn’t deliver.”
The project will be evaluated in a year’s time and the city council will see if free wireless Internet access is viable in other Maastricht squares too.