Feeds

Urban Wi-Fi is back... in Westminster and Kensington

Made in Chelsea gets wireless blanket

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

O2 will be providing blanket Wi-Fi coverage on behalf of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, installed into street furniture and providing free connectivity to residents and visitors.

How comprehensive the coverage will be remains to be seen; deployment will start this month and there's no schedule for blanket coverage which is just promised eventually. The system will be part of O2's Wi-Fi operations, which use a mobile phone to authenticate accounts (requiring a one-time registration) and offer unrestricted access to the internet, for free to the user.

O2 reckons venue owners will fund its Wi-Fi operations, with users being presented with a sponsored landing page and logged when coming within range if they've left Wi-Fi switched on. Up to five MAC addresses can be linked to one mobile number, and O2 will consider sending text messages to passing customers, but the telco made it very clear that users will be given the option to opt out of such pushed messages.

This blanket wireless deal with Westminster City Council and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is being painted as O2 Wi-Fi's first customer, yet the local authorities have been in touch to assure us the service is being run "at no cost to the councils or the taxpayer". It is not known how much money is involved.

It's far from the first time that Westminster has tried this; the council is a pioneer of municipal Wi-Fi, having announced "Westminster 4G" back in 2003 – which was apparently going to cost £15m for blanket 802.11b coverage, initially for council staff and equipment. That was followed by the council's "Wireless City Project" in 2005, which was intended to open up the Wi-Fi network to BT Openzone customers.

So it's been almost a decade since the council first announced that everyone in the region would get Wi-Fi, but technology has improved since then: Wi-Fi hotspots are now a lot cheaper, and 802.11n has better range too, not to mention the decreasing cost of backhaul. But the band available to Wi-Fi hasn't changed, and there's a limit to how many times the same channel can be filled.

With O2's backing, municipal Wi-Fi might just happen this time, but we'll be keeping a 3G dongle handy just in case. ®

Updated to clarify the position on funding of the Wi-Fi service.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS
AppleSIM 'ware to allow quick switch of carriers
Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease
Hey, c'mon Choc Factory, it's our 'right to be forgotten'
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
FCC, Google cast eye over millimetre wireless
The smaller the wave, the bigger 5G's chances of success
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.