Nokia and Wi-Fi provider Spectrum Interactive have today (1 November) announced a free Wi-Fi access trial in some of London’s streets.
The two companies claim this is the first ever public Wi-Fi scheme in the UK that is specifically aiming to make it easier for people on the move to access online services for free.
Internet access is initially available for a trial period at 26 street hotspots from 1 November until the end of 2011 and will test how consumers interact with the free Wi-Fi service. Following a successful trial, plans are in place for a large-scale rollout across London from early 2012.
The Wi-Fi network supports access speeds of up to 20Mbp per second via equipment installed in street-side phone boxes owned by Spectrum Interactive.
Users do not need to register to use the service; they simply log-on to the network, accept the terms and conditions and browsing can begin immediately.
The following key areas will be covered by the trial: Oxford St, Tottenham Court Road, Bloomsbury, South Kensington, Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Lancaster Gate, Bayswater, Westminster, Sloane Square, Victoria and Marylebone.
The two-month trial is intended to assess both the demand for free Wi-Fi access and the browsing behaviour of consumers using the service across the capital. The findings will be used to determine the best locations for future hotspots and the necessary bandwidth to meet robust consumer demand.
John Nichols, head of marketing at Nokia said: ‘Nokia believes you can upgrade every day moments to make them amazing. Providing free Wi-Fi access to London commuters and visitors does just that. On-the-go internet access has become an indispensible part of modern life. From tourists finding their way around the capital, to commuters updating Facebook or browsing on the move, we all depend on mobile to share our everyday experiences and enhance our lives. Nokia is pleased to sponsor this pilot which we hope will connect people even more easily than ever before.’
Simon Alberga, executive chairman at Spectrum Interactive, commented: ‘While 4G mobile access is firmly on the horizon, Wi-Fi coverage currently fills a much needed niche between 3G mobile internet and home broadband. Tablets and mobile phones are capable of incredibly high-end browsing experiences now, but Wi-Fi access is often a requirement to support the tasks many of us want to be able to do on the move, such as uploading multimedia to Facebook or watching YouTube. It’s great to be able to implement a service that so many people will quickly come to regard as indispensible.’