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Spread across almost forty square kilometers, there are a lot of buildings in Wevelgem that fall under the jurisdiction of the local authority. “We’ve had a fiberglass connection for the local authority services for ages,” says ICT coordinator Valentijn Verbeke. “But, until recently, the so-called outside locations – such as sports facilities and library branches – had an ADSL connection.” Wevelgem wanted a faster solution. At the same time, the municipality issued an invitation to tender for the internet connection.
Verbeke: “The Proximus solution offered the best value for money”.. “We now not only have a central fiberglass connection with a capacity of 50 Mbit up and down, but also VDSL for the outside locations and secure access to all government applications – think, for example, of the National Register and Social Security. That access is possible thanks to PubliLink Explore – a fast and secure private network that connects all of our services and gives our employees access to the necessary information. What’s more, the costs are lower than before.”
It was important for the municipality that Proximus offers a strong SLA – Service Level Agreement – with guaranteed high network availability and short response times should anything go wrong – although hopefully it won’t. The network connection is essential to local authority staff who use all kinds of administrative applications every day. Various services – including youth and culture – need an internet connection because they communicate with the target public mainly via social media.
Wevelgem has offered Wi-Fi in various locations for some time, not just for local authority staff, but for visitors, too. “All the internet connections used to use the same line,” Verbeke explained. “The new solution spreads the needs better over the available bandwidth.” Local authority staff go onto the internet via the fiberglass connection. Visitors who use the public Wi-Fi hotspots surf via the VDSL connection. “The internet computers in the library are connected to this too. Students often use these PCs, for instance when they are working on a joint task. We offer internet access via these computers to people who don’t have a computer, tablet or smartphone at home, as well. It’s a way of trying to bridge the digital divide.”
Use of the public Wi-Fi hotspots is still rising fast. At the moment, the municipality has about 25 operational hotspots. By the end of this year, that figure will double. “Everyone relies on the availability of free Wi-Fi these days,” Verbeke continued, “preferably with perfect cover.” The availability of a network connection also increases the efficiency of certain activities, such as hiring playing fields or meeting rooms. “We use a secure system of access control with badges that is also connected to the network. People who hire a room are given a badge that is operational temporarily.”
Wevelgem lies on the River Lys, between Kortrijk and Menen. This West-Flanders municipality has a population of about 31,000, spread over the residential areas of Wevelgem, Gullegem and Moorsele, and is known internationally as the arrival point of the Ghent-Wevelgem spring classic cycling race.