O2 Launches Free Wi-Fi In Central London
Advertising-driven network is available to anyone, not just O2 customers
Today, O2 has launched a free outdoor Wi-Fi network in the busiest parts of central London, including Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Exhibition Road.
The company hopes the new hotspots will help hundreds of thousands of tourists visiting the capital this summer.
The network, paid for by advertisers, will be free for everyone, regardless of network or broadband provider. Once registered, customers will be automatically connected each time they enter a coverage area.
Best things in life are free
The free Wi-Fi project was designed in collaboration with Westminster City Council and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It will cover seven areas in total: Exhibition Road, High Street Kensington, Parliament Square, Trafalgar Square, OxfordStreet, Regent Street, Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.
“We are proud to announce that today, we can bring O2 Wi-Fi to some of the busiest streets and squares of central London. We are now providing Londoners and visitors alike with fast, free, reliable Wi-Fi when visiting some of the busiest areas in Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea,” said Gavin Franks, managing director of O2 Wi-Fi.
Unlike Virgin Media underground hotspots, the O2 Wi-Fi network will remain free of charge to all users after the Olympics have ended. It will be completely financed by advertising.
The O2 homepage, which will pop up every time users connect, will display automatically updated content relevant to their location. The House of Fraser department store has scored an exclusive deal to be the first to advertise through the homepage across the network.
Wi-Fi has been proposed by several experts as a means to reduce the strain on overloaded 3G networks during the London Olympics. The capital expects a 13 percent increase in visitors during the Summers’ festivities, and the Olympics itself promises to be the most bandwidth-intensive event of all time.
Even without the Olympic challenge,Westminster, where much of the network is located, is one of the most connected areas in the UK. A recent survey of local residents by TNS/RI revealed that 69 percent own a smartphone compared to 43 percent of the total UK population. In addition, 23 percent of all Westminster residents own an iPad compared to just 12 percent of the population nationwide.
“With millions of extra people coming to town for the Games, we want to ensure we showcase the capital as the best city in the world to work and visit, and the addition of free Wi-Fi to some of our most popular landmarks is crucial in helping to maintaining that reputation,” commented the Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
In 2011, O2 was planning to create a free Wi-Fi hotspot network to rival BT Openzone, but back then it wanted users to register by text, and feed them advertising through “relevant” and “timely” phone calls.
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