O2 are to deploy a wireless network across London in collaboration with Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea councils to provide free Wi-Fi to visitors and tourists. The network will be Europe's largest free Wi-Fi zone the company have claimed. O2 will install access points in street furniture such as on lamp posts across London with plans for it to be partially operational in time for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June.
"Westminster welcomes over a million tourists a day, is home to 250,000 residents, employs over half a million people and sees 4,000 business starts-ups each year."
Next summer's Olympic Games mean that London will be putting on the biggest show on earth and as Westminster has a starring role, visitors to London will easily be able to share their pictures and updates of the Olympic events across social networking sites.Philippa Roe (Cabinet Member), Westminster City Council
There are clear benefits to rolling out wireless to a city which allows people to get information about the area, or just browse the 'net. O2 will benefit from pulling their users off their mobile broadband service, particularly in times of high demand, so users can get the best access possible. There have been various proposals to deploy wireless across London in the past, with Boris keen to support the cause.
"This ground-breaking deal – the first of its kind in the UK – will see us deliver high quality connectivity across London in time for London 2012. Our longer-term aim is to expand our footprint of O2 wifi, which is open to everyone, and also intelligently enhance our services at street level, where people need the network the most."Derek McManus
Westminster announced their Wireless City project back in 2004 to deploy wireless across the city, and various other projects have been run. This includes The Cloud, now part of rival Sky, deploying a wireless network across the City of London, and Nokia running a Wi-Fi trial in Central London. By the time of the Olympics, we may find that London does have more Wi-Fi available, and hopefully this will remain and stay free after the Olympics, something O2 hope to keep.