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London gets UK's first Wi-Fi ‘hotzone’

Piccadilly Circus encircled

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Broadreach Networks has activated in London what it says is Britain's first Wi-Fi 'hotzone' - a multi-hotspot area offering blanket Wi-Fi coverage.

The zone comprises WLAN access points sited in company partners' local premises, and Broadreach's own HQ, which conveniently is situated just down the road. Geographically, the zone stretches from the east end of Piccadilly, from Church Place onwards, through Piccadilly Circus and down Coventry Street as far as Wardour Street.

During December, Broadreach plans to extend the zone eastwards to cover Leicester Square and the adjacent Odeon and Empire cinemas.

With blanket coverage, users can easily move within the zone without losing their network connection, in-building blind spots excepted, of course.

Anyone with a Wi-Fi enabled computer or PDA can access the Internet within the zone. Internet access within the zone is free - at least until the end of the year, just like Broadreach's ReadytoSurf hotspots. The reason may have as much to do with the relatively small number of public Wi-Fi users out there, as with the company's magnanimity.

ReadytoSurf's hotspots are subsidised in essence by the on-site fixed-wire cyber cafe terminals the company provides to the likes of Coffee Republic.

Still, the zone shows that broad-area Wi-Fi is possible, and while London's winter is probably too chilly and wet to bring even early adopters out into the fresh air to roam the WLAN, come summer we may yet see notebook users surfing from leafy Leicester Square. ®

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