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British Library tunes into Wi-Fi

Public WLAN for readers

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The British Library - the UK's answer to the Library of Congress - has equipped its St. Pancras, London repository with Wi-Fi access.

While the service will be primarily pitched at researchers and readers, the Library isn't unaware of the lucrative potential of its public WLAN, and so was quick to point out how useful the service will be to business travellers visiting London via Eurostar and its new rail terminal at King's Cross, just a few hundred yards from the Library.

Alas, since Eurostar is itself exploring the possibilities Wi-Fi offers to attract travellers, the Library may be out of luck, but with 3000-odd visitors a day - 86 per cent of whom bring laptops into the building, a Library survey reveals - it should still find plenty of folk willing to shell out for pay-as-you-go access.

The Library charges £4.50 for an hour's access; £3 for 30 minutes' connection. Unused airtime can be retained for use later. BT Openzone and The Cloud customers can also access the zone through their own accounts.

The Library's Wi-Fi zone covers all 11 reading rooms, the facility's 225-seat auditorium, its café and restaurant, not to mention the seating outside the building.

The Wi-Fi infrastructure itself comes courtesy of UK WISP The Cloud, which recently also announced it has signed a deal to equip Sweden's railway stations with public WLANs. The British Library public WLAN has been on trial since May 2004. ®

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