River Thames to flow with Wi-Fi

Hotspots along the river and on Thames Clipper boats will serve Wi-Fi to more than 30 million people each year

The River Thames has become the latest London landmark to be laced with Wi-Fi hotspots, thanks to a group effort from Global Reach, Ruckus Wireless and BT.

Around 100 Wireless hotspots were installed along the 27 miles of river that runs from Woolwich in the east, through central London and out west to Putney over a four month period. Access points have also been fixed onto 24 Thames Clipper boats that ferry people along the stretch of water to give connectivity to commuters on the move.

Global Reach took control of the deployment, estimating over 30 million people would connect to the service each year.

It chose to use Ruckus’ ZoneFlex equipment for both indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots. The ZoneFlex 7782-N access points sit on the piers crossing the river, while the ZoneFlex 7363 points run inside the boats, both backed up with 3G backhaul running on spectrum between 2.4GHz and 2.5GHz.

The public Wi-Fi service will be branded as a Global Reach product and provided for free. BT broadband customers will be able to use a specially adapted service with a BT interface for free as a perk of their contract.

“To effectively deal with the demands and capacity required to deliver service on this scale, we needed a carrier-grade Wi-Fi network in which our customers could have complete confidence,” said Nigel Wesley, CEO at Global Reach.

“At the end of the day, customers don’t really care about how the infrastructure works – they simply want a fast, reliable and affordable Wi-Fi experience, that’s easy to access and use. That’s precisely what we’re delivering with Ruckus.”

Global Reach plans to make the wireless network into a wholesale offering in the first quarter of this year and also offer international roaming capabilities to visitors along the riverside.

“Global Reach has developed a different model that not only delivers a carrier-grade Wi-Fi infrastructure at a much lower cost, we are also reducing the time to market for service providers and enterprise customers, allowing them to focus on monetisation and bringing value to the subscriber experience,” added Wesley.

Transport for London (TfL) is already using the network privately to gather real-time location-based information, as well as monitor its travel network, see whether transport is running to timetables and to run its CCTV system.

Read more on Wireless networking