The City of London is finally upgrading its free WiFi service for businesses, residents and visitors to the capital.
As part of a 15 year multi-million pound contract, O2 will manage what is being billed as one of the most technically advanced WiFi projects in the world.
O2 have linked up with Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure (CTIL), to roll out their new system across the capital. Later this year they plan to begin installing more than 400 small cells into street furniture such as signs, lampposts and CCTV cameras.
With promised speeds of up to 1Gbps, The City claim it will be even be fast enough to stream video.
Mark Boleat from the City of London corporation said: “Free, reliable, high-speed wireless Internet is a must for any modern, competitive financial centre.”
He added: “Soon, residents, visitors and workers in the City will be able to enjoy uninterrupted wireless connectivity, and this project should ensure that wireless ‘black spots’ in the Square Mile become a thing of the past.”
Back in January we reported that ultrafast public Wifi was coming to London.
Currently Central London’s free Wifi is The Cloud, which is operated by Sky. Despite being in operation since 2003, officials don’t think it’s providing a good enough service for the 10 million yearly visitors to the capital. Not to mention the 400,000 City workers who have access to it daily.
O2’s Chief Operating Officer Derek McManus said: “Continued investment in infrastructure is essential to maintain the UK’s reputation as a digital leader.“
He added: “Connectivity plays a central role in supporting the future growth of our economy, enabling us to communicate and trade more easily, attracting overseas business and creating new jobs. “
He continued: “In fact, our own research tells us that an effective rollout of 5G connectivity will add over £7 billion a year to the economy by 2026.”
According to a recent report by the Z/Yen Group, other major financial hubs such as New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore are rapidly moving forward in terms of connectivity, with London lagging behind. According to the City of London themselves, London is ranked just 26th out of all 33 European capitals for broadband speed.
But that now looks set to change, as the new WiFi is planned to roll out later in 2017.