LONDON: People in nine cities across Britain will be able to make use of WiFi technology beginning March as a city-based firm, The Cloud, is launching its first phase of a proposed nationwide WiFi network. This will mean that users in these cities will be able to access the internet from their laptops outdoors, without cables, and use their mobile phones to make calls over the web.
The eight cities where the WiFi hotspots will be launched are Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford, Cambridge and Liverpool besides the London boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Camden and Islington.
WiFi hotspots provide access to the internet for those with a WiFi-enabled computer or mobile phone without having to use the traditional medium of a cable. Several hotspots put together provide blanket coverage of outdoor areas in the city. Mobile phone users will also be able to make use of the hotspots and make national and international calls, send e-mails and transfer documents at a fraction of the existing costs and without having to rely on telecom service providers.
Mobile phones and laptop computers with a WiFi chip can use the internet to make calls or create networks. While most of the laptop computers contain the WiFi chip, some 25 mobile phones come with WiFi chips.
George Polk, chief executive of The Cloud, a firm funded by private equity funds, said he expects voice calls to represent about a third of revenues.
He said the network equipment will be installed on lampposts or street signs and revenue will be share between those who own these street furniture’s, the Cloud and the ISP.
Initially, subscribers of BT Openzone, O2, SkypeZones and Nintendo WiFi will be able to make use of the service while other wireless ISPs will be added soon.
The Cloud operates some 6,000 hotspots throughout the country, Sweden and Germany. It had recently set up a network in Canary Wharf, which is claimed to be the largest WiFi-enabled financial area in Europe.
Polk said providing the ubiquitous wireless broadband access … will have a major impact on the way people communicate, work and play in city centres. “Businesses can use wireless broadband to work more efficiently, local government workers can stay in touch with their office via hand-held devices, and the general public can surf the web, play games, compare prices and make low-cost calls internationally over the internet,” he added.