Several major UK telecoms operators are reported to be bidding on contracts that will see 16 out of London’s 33 boroughs all deploying a new free wireless internet (wifi) service to local residents and visitors, which could also be used to help ease the strain on Mobile Broadband operators.
According to V3, the new network would make use of small cells and street furniture (lamp posts and bus shelters etc.) to distribute its service. But locals would probably only gain access to the free connectivity for around 30 minutes a day and after that they’d most likely need to pay a small fee.
Geoff Connell, IT Director for Newham Council, said:
“The boroughs are jointly tendering for Wi-Fi. What we’ve done is invite telcos to piggy-back on our infrastructure to provide free Wi-Fi to residents. A number of telcos have bid. It’s the same sort of model as that which is running in the [London] underground. [The Wi-Fi provider] will generate income through advertising.”
Camden Council is understood to be leading the tendering process and O2, which already runs a similar network in the boroughs of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, are believed to have a strong interest.
Similarly we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Virgin Media, BT and BSkyB (The Cloud) showing an active interest as they all have significant wifi hotspot networks. The move also fits in with the government’s wider Smart Cities agenda.