The London Borough of Camden in England has today become the first of seventeen councils in the capital city to confirm a free public Wi-Fi (wireless internet) service to streets and open spaces across the borough, though it’s only free for the first 30 minutes of use (daily).
The new 10-year deal, which will see Arqiva building the necessary infrastructure, forms part of a wider project between 17 of London’s 33 boroughs that was first revealed in February 2013 (here). Extra effort will also be put towards supporting both digital innovation in local firms and tackling digital exclusion.
The scheme allows telecoms operators to “piggy-back” on each councils existing infrastructure, such as by placing small cells (WiFi, 3G and 4G) on lamp posts and bus shelters. It proposes that income would be generated through a mix of advertising and paid options (i.e. after your first 30 minutes of free use have been used up).
Councillor Theo Blackwell, Camden’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said:
“Our aim is to make Camden one of the most connected places in the country. This is great news for residents who will be able to access Wi-Fi services in public and open spaces. It will also be a huge benefit to businesses who will be able to trial new advertising techniques to better target their customers.
Our large number of visitors and tourists will benefit from being able to access online information about events nearby and find information to visit local shops, bars and restaurants.”
Camden’s 212,000 residents, businesses and visitors can expect to start benefitting from the “fast, reliable and ‘always-on’ connectivity” when the service begins its roll-out from 1st June 2013. It’s understood that the deployment is expected to complete by the end of 2014 and will focus on covering areas which have the “highest demand first“.
Phase one of the roll-out will target the South of Camden in areas of high footfall and the remaining phases will cover Camden Town and Kentish Town, followed by Kilburn, Finchley, Hampstead and Belsize Park. In addition users of the service will be able to access Camden Council’s online services free of charge 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
The other boroughs are imminently expected to follow suit.