Internet provider XLN Telecom has announced that they intend to put free public WiFi on “every British high street” (i.e. they’ll have a presence on every high street, albeit not 100% coverage), but they’ll start by initially only providing it via 15,000 of their small business customers (at no extra cost).
Overall XLN has more than 100,000 British small business customers, which includes users of their wider energy and card processing services. Under the current approach the first 15,000 of those will be allowed to automatically offer free WiFi to their customers and this will then be extended to all of XLN’s business broadband customers, which they claim will “extend Wi-Fi coverage on every high street and postcode in the UK“.
The bold claim is based on the ISP’s assertion that 1 in every 10 high street shops, as well as 1 in 7 hairdressers and 1 in 10 restaurants are already XLN customers. The provider hopes that this approach will eventually turn them into the “largest Wi-Fi network for small businesses in the UK.” At the same time they claim that their customers will benefit from having a “simple, safe and cost effective way of providing free Wi-Fi to customers without resorting to shared passwords or expensive custom solutions.”
Christian Nellemann, XLN Founder and CEO, said:
“We’re going to create the single biggest small business Wi-Fi network in the UK, and we’re going to Wi-Fi enable every British high street – it’s as simple as that. This will give customers more reasons to choose small, independent businesses over corporate giants, and that means more support for independent high streets as a whole. For anyone that cares about their local high street, this is massive.”
Apparently the new XLN Wi-Fi service will be available exclusively to XLN broadband subscribers and this will be “activated remotely” using existing equipment, which sounds like some sort of router based solution like BT’s FON service in their HomeHub kit. However there’s no information on whether or not the ISP’s more security conscious or slower speed broadband clients can opt-out.
The supporting wireless technology is being provided by the GlobalReach Technology Services division using its captive portal management platform and Benu vMEG. Both BT and Virgin Media also work with the same company to support their own WiFi networks and related software.