London Setting Up Largest Free Wifi Area in Europe

London TechCityOne of the areas that will form a part of London’s TechCity. Photo provided by TechCity program.

London Setting Up Largest Free Wifi Area in Europe
Zone in Center of City Will Go Online Before Olympic Games Commence
El País: Londres prepara la zona wifi gratuita más grande de Europa
Staff Report January 6, 2012

London is continuing its crusade to become a leading technological city. The British capital is planning to debut free wireless Internet access, like New York has in its public parks, before the Olympic Games begin there this summer.

According to the BBC’s announcement, the access points for TechCity will be embedded in street furniture, and the system will be developed by telecommunications company O2.

This month, the Westminster zone will become active. The neighborhoods of Kensington and Chelsea will be next. Philippa Roe, councilor for city finances, believes it will be a very constructive measure: “visitors to London will easily be able to share their pictures and updates of the Olympic events across social networking sites.” According to city hall calculations, Westminster will receive a million tourists a day; it currently has 250,000 residents and close to half a million people working there.

In November 2010, the Charing Cross Station became the first to provide wireless connection throughout its premises. Notwithstanding, the government has clarified that it is not inviting people to unsubscribe from their home broadband connections; rather, it is providing complementary services.

Farther away from the three central neighborhoods of Westminster, Kensington, and Chelsea, the city expects to provide free web access at 120 metro stations. This initiative is in addition to 26 currently existing connection points, the majority situated on Oxford Street and its environs and sponsored by Nokia.

There have been several attempts to offer free connection in Spain. Málaga was the first city to do so. In September, the National Assembly delegateed 300,000 euros to an Andalusian city to provide Internet access without the need to register with an ISP or make prior arrangements with the Telecommunications Market Commission. Since September 2010, Madrid city buses have offered free Internet access, albeit with advertisements included.

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