Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea councils have signed a deal with 02 to provide a free Wi-Fi zone for the visitors and residents in time for the Olympic games.
O2 claims the deal will result in the largest free wireless hub in Europe, providing free Wi-Fi to millions of residents and visitors. Initially six Wi-Fi providers were shortlisted to provide Wi-Fi deployment, including BT, Sky and Virgin.
Installation of the network will begin this month, with access to be initially rolled out across a limited number of areas.
Philippa Roe, member of Westminster City Council, said: “Next summer’s Olympic Games mean that London will be putting on the biggest show on earth and as Westminster has a starring role, visitors to London will easily be able to share their pictures and updates of the Olympic events across social networking sites.”
Councillor Nicholas Paget-Brown at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, said: “I am very pleased that we have been able to come to this agreement and we look forward to working with O2. Residents and visitors having free access to the latest mobile technology will help us to continue to offer value for money for residents.”
Matthew Howett, analyst at Ovum said the hot spots should help take the strain off networks, with the increase in people using smartphones to send user-generated videos.
“However, it’s unlikely local residents will give up their broadband subscriptions in favour of using free W-Fi sport as they tend not to be so reliable given issues of the number of people using them,” he said.