Feeds

Hard-up Brit bankers bag endless free Wi-Fi during cig breaks

Slickers know how to spend other people's money

The essential guide to IT transformation

The City of London will get free unlimited Wi-Fi internet access from The Cloud following a successful six-month trial.

The wireless connectivity biz blanketed the capital's financial district with Wi-Fi in 2007 but limited city slickers to 15 minutes of free use before it started charging for the service.

But in March this year the City of London Corporation removed that restriction for a six-month trial, just in time for the 2012 Olympics. The test run proved successful and now it will be extended indefinitely.

Wireless users can hang around St Paul's Cathedral or enjoy a lengthy smoke break outside the Gherkin without having to pay a penny - although they'll still be expected to sign up with an email address and invited to spend a little time on The Cloud's splash page populated with content from its parent BSkyB.

Municipal Wi-Fi has a history so poor it can't even be considered "checkered": almost every project around the world has launched with a wave of optimism and smiling politicians, only to be exposed a year or two later as a financial black hole that is quietly forgotten as soon as the voters are looking elsewhere.

Meanwhile shops and restaurants have been dropping hotspots into their premises as a freebie, particularly in the US where the prohibitive cost of cellular data drives the search for alternatives, reducing the need for authority-sponsored schemes.

There are a handful of exceptions, and the city's preponderance of offices gets it onto that list. London's shops and restaurants are gathered around the West End so the city is full of smartphone-touting bankers, some of whom, by happy coincidence, juggle large teams of international travellers who require just the kind of connectivity offered by The Cloud.

If enough of them sign up then the free service should prove sustainable, but there are no promises here: free Wi-Fi isn't a right and one should expect the plug to be pulled pretty quickly if the load is too great.

Public Wi-Fi is scheduled for a revolution in the next year or two with the adoption of Hotspot 2, which enables mobile phones to roam onto Wi-Fi networks as though they were cellular networks.

Once that happens companies like The Cloud will be able to bill mobile operators for connectivity, while providing free connections to anyone prepared to go through the registration process to clocking up their mobile data. This should result in better connectivity for all, but until then a bit of free Wi-Fi is always welcome. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
EE plonks 4G in UK Prime Minister's backyard
OK, his constituency. Brace yourself for EXTRA #selfies
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.