O2 will build out its free Wi-Fi network using networking technology from Cisco.
Access to O2 Wi-Fi will be free for all customers, regardless of which provider they use. The roll-out of the network has already begun. During the Olympics, O2 provided free Wi-Fi in central London.
The mobile operator originally unveiled its plans for a free public Wi-Fi network in January 2011. The service will cover 15,000 UK locations over the next two years.
“O2 Wi-Fi hotspots will bring high-quality public wireless internet access to the majority of mobile users," said Gavin Franks, managing director of O2 Wi-Fi.
O2 Wi-Fi hotspot locations will use Cisco Aironet 3500 Series access points. The access points provide self-healing and self-optimising functionality through Cisco’s CleanAir technology.
According to Cisco, CleanAir technology is designed to optimise wireless performance by detecting interference, identifying and locating its source, and then making automatic adjustments to help ensure a high-quality service.
Free Wi-Fi is seen by many industry commentators as an enabler for mobile commerce. A number of retailers, including Tesco, Debenhams and Pizza Express, are providing their own free Wi-Fi service to customers.
Computer Weekly comment:
While Wi-Fi is built into tablet devices, only premium models offer 3G connectivity. So the majority of tablet users have Wi-Fi-only devices. The availability of an easily accessible, free, ubiquitous Wi-Fi service will drive greater adoption. However, O2’s service is not ubiquitous.