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London City to be Wi-Fi-enabled


Published :
Wed, 22 Feb 2006 21:50
By : Richard Owen
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LONDON: The City of London Corporation is all set to have Wi-Fi network in place covering the entire city (The square mile). The project is being undertaken by the corporation in partnership with a private Wi-Fi firm, The Cloud. It is expected to be implemented in full in the next few months.

The Cloud, which will install the hardware and equipment, will make use of street furniture like the lamp posts and street signs for the purpose.

The network will make the city Wi-Fi-enabled and workers as well as visitors within the square mile will be able to make use of wireless devices to access the internet on streets and in open spaces. The project will support high speed internet access, email, music and video downloads and voice over Wi-Fi services.

The network also incorporates secure access and private data networks for emergency services.

Michael Snyder, chairman of the corporation's policy planning committee, said the corporation is responding to the increasing time pressures faced by City workers by providing the technology to stay uptodate. "We feel it is important to provide this technology to maintain our position as the world's leading international financial centre," he said.

The system will facilitate connectivity to as many as 350,000 workers while on the move through their laptop or palmtop computers. Users can opt for business subscriptions or pay-as-you-go accounts.

Wi-Fi hotspots function by broadcasting internet signals across radio frequencies. The hotspots enable anyone with a wireless-enabled device to surf the web. The Cloud will install some 150 beacons at strategic places to ensure coverage as there are several high-rises and narrow streets in the city.

The Cloud's chief executive George Polk said corporate users are increasingly turning to Wi-Fi for a range of services, including converged voice services. "We have strong demand from existing customers for coverage in high density and high profile locations like the City of London, and we expect this trend to continue."

The Cloud has opted for an open network concept, which means that any service provider can use the network for a price to provide services to its customers. The firm already runs several Wi-Fi hotspots in London, such as at Canary Wharf, the British Library and Coffee Republic, a chain of cafés. Operators, including BT Group and Nintendo, rent time on The Cloud's network.


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