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City of London Corporation to build small cell Wi-Fi network

Residents, workers and visitors to the City of London will be able to log onto an ultrafast Wi-Fi network across the Square Mile later on in 2017

The City of London Corporation is to build a small cell network across the Square Mile to provide an ultrafast wireless broadband service to replace its current free offering, which is delivered via Sky-owned public Wi-Fi access provider The Cloud.

The Corporation greenlit the network at an event on the morning of 9 January 2017, promising gigabit browsing speeds and giving users the ability to use high-bandwidth services, such as video streaming, on demand over a free Wi-Fi network.

The project will be the largest single investment in wireless ever made in London, and will go live in spring 2017, with a provider to be named in the next few weeks.

“As the world’s leading financial hub, we are thrilled to bring our wireless connectivity up to speed. At a time when other major financial centres are competing with us, the Square Mile is boosting its appeal through initiatives such as this,” said Mark Boleat, chair of the City of London Corporation’s policy and resources committee.

The Corporation will deploy over 400 small cells on sites such as lamp posts, street signage and buildings, boosting the strength and reliability of the current wireless network. It hopes this will go some way towards addressing many of the current mobile connectivity problems that exist in the City of London, a consequence of the area’s tall, signal-blocking buildings and narrow, medieval street pattern

It cited recent research by the Z/Yen Group, which in its most recent Global Financial Centres Index claimed that other major financial hubs such as Hong Kong, New York, Singapore and Tokyo were moving ahead of London in terms of establishing advanced connectivity.

“Fast and reliable digital connectivity is crucial for businesses, and I’m really pleased the City of London Corporation is taking this significant step in improving speed and coverage in the Square Mile,” said London’s deputy mayor for business, Rajesh Agrawal.

“The Mayor is committed to improving London’s connectivity, including tackling the capital’s ‘notspots’ and ensuring providers have better access to public-sector property for digital infrastructure.”

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Last year, the corporation, which presides over a part of London frequently held up as an example of poor inner-city network connectivity, launched new processes designed to speed up the process of getting businesses in London connected to fit-for-purpose broadband.

In conjunction with developers, landlords, network operators, government, legal firms and trade associations are to develop a set of tools – including standardised legal wayleaves, which are intended to overcome some of the difficulties of getting new broadband services installed.

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