Broadband News

Use WiFi in a London Borough? Expect it to perform worse soon

It is not uncommon if you live in London and search for a wireless hot-spot for your phone or tablet to show maybe 20 to 30 various signals all attempting to squeeze into the handful of wireless channels available in the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi spectrum. The end result is often congestion and extremely variable performance for people, alas the news that sixteen London councils are looking to roll-out free Wi-Fi means things will only get worse.

V3 has learnt that there is a deal that is close to being finalised that will see free Wi-Fi being rolled out following the model of advertising on the landing page covering the costs of running the service. Some 16 out of the 33 London Boroughs are involved in the tendering process currently.

No providers are named, but Virgin Media through its existing London Underground Wi-Fi network has been very active in this area, and then O2 are already offering a service in Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea. So this may be one tender process that sees some real competition.

For those living in areas with so many Wi-Fi networks they cannot get a reliable connection, it is either tether yourself to a piece of Ethernet cable or switch to the 5GHz band, alas lots of wireless devices as yet don't support the less congested Wi-Fi frequency. Another trick is to get neighbours to arrange the channels their wireless routers use in an optimal fashion and turn off speed boosting options like 40MHz wide channels which cause more interference to other networks.

For those with long memories, this idea of a wireless net pervading a city is nothing new, The Cloud was talking about city wide coverage some seven years ago.


It certainly is getting to the stage where WiFi is unusable.

One day recently I could only a very slow throughput. I checked with inSSIDer and could see well in excess of 200 access points spread across the full spectrum. A lot were obviously corporate APs which could be heavily used.

Putting more and more networks will just worsen the situation in some London locations - the management traffic will probably take up the small amount of bandwidth available to each AP leaving nothing for data!

Maybe it is time for some "regulation" to manage what is fast becoming an impossible situation.

  • mhc
  • over 8 years ago

I'm a little bemused that areas deploying wifi is being portrayed as such a bad thing.

Wifi in high density areas already sucks at 2.4GHz, another AP isn't going to make a huge amount of difference.

  • Dixinormous
  • over 8 years ago

I'm also bemused that providers are falling over themselves to provide a service in some areas and thus spoiling the service, yet there is a complete lack of service in other areas. Isn't there any common sense applied at all?

  • csimon
  • over 8 years ago


The market is god. Rationality counts for nothing. Not so long ago a town near us was 50% cable. The other 50% was deemed too expensive (ie not enough return. It's a cruel world.

  • samkl
  • over 8 years ago

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