London councils aim to introduce public Wi-Fi
Feb 26th 2013, 17:03
A number of London councils are in the closing stages of a procurement plan to provide public Wi-Fi and mobile phone signal networks to public spaces throughout the city.
PCPro has reported that the scheme could deliver free Wi-Fi access to residents via a system of transceivers attached to lamp posts, bus shelters and other street equipment.
Geoff Connell, director of IT for Newham Council, is one of the representatives involved in the plans and told the news provider that the move would allow councils to generate revenue from selling access to its assets, while giving consumers free internet access.
Such a wireless network could then connect back to the internet via hubs on wired-up lamp posts and other council property.
Thanks to the plans, better mobile signals could be provided with small cell technology to add capacity to networks in busy areas where services are hindered by high data demands.
Small cells boast a range of between 10m and 200m, meaning carriers can improve capacity in busy areas.
Mr Connell believes the tendering process could be finished within two to three weeks, before initial services are up and running within a year.
Organisations involved in the negotiations include major mobile companies and internet service providers, with the services expected to run on a similar model to the way that Virgin's London Underground web access operates.
"The boroughs are basically saying 'We have these assets such as lamp posts and street furniture that's available' and suppliers are bidding to use those for wireless services," Mr Connell told the news provider.
News of these plans comes after a study by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport analysed the social, economic and environmental effects of broadband investment.
The report found that access to better connections had a positive impact on national economies, while international trade was also boosted significantly.
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