CabWifi wins Transport for London approval

A free Wi-Fi service for black cabs will begin to roll out across London in early 2013.

A Tech City start-up has won the approval of Transport for London (TfL) to roll out its free Wi-Fi service in black cabs across London.

CabWifi was created by Eyetease two years ago to enable passengers in the iconic cars to get 15 minutes' free Wi-Fi in return for watching a 15-second video. Drivers will also have a separate login, cutting down on the amount of mobile data they have to consume when on the move.

It works by converting 3G and 4G connections into a Wi-Fi hotspot for the taxi and uses technology built into the car to avoid issues such as buildings blocking signals.

The service will be funded by commercial partners, although Eyetease only confirmed it was in “progressed conversations” with consumer brands, including a credit card company and mobile phone operator, rather than naming any.

The roll-out is planned for early 2013, following two years of pushing to get it signed off by TfL.

“This is really great news for London,” said Richard Corbett, founder and CEO of Eyetease. “With dwell times averaging 15 minutes in the back of a taxi, what better way to pass the time than to use your laptop, tablet, book reader or phone with free internet access.”

“Tourists and business travellers can now access their emails, talk on Skype or surf the web without the fear of being hit with high data roaming charges when they return home,” he added.

Although CabWifi is Eyetease’s first taxi-based technology to be deployed, it is also working on another service called iTaxitop. Inspired by a similar solution in New York, it allows digital rooftop advertising on taxis to be updated wirelessly, enabling the adverts to fit with the time they are being shown or area they are being displayed in, making for more interactive marketing.

Eyetease is still waiting for TfL approval for this system, but hopes to also trial it in early 2013 as CabWifi is deployed.

Image: Comstock/Thinkstock

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