Nokia have switched on a trial of a free wi-fi service which will cover key shopping areas in central London. The trial is set the last until the end of this year and will then go under review to deem whether it has been a success or not.
Nokia has set up 26 hot spot areas around central London which will support the wi-fi service. The areas that are being used for this trial run are mainly concentrated around the busier West End shopping areas. Victoria, Marylebone and Westminster will also be involved in the trial. Nokia have stated that users will not have to register or sign in to use the wi-fi service and therefore minimising the time needed to access it.
The wi-fi hotspots are located on phone boxes which are owned and operated by their partner Spectrum Interactive. The hotspots are built around web links that run at 20 megabits per second but download speeds are restricted to ensure others can access the service.
Craig Hepburn, Nokia’s director of digital and social media stated “The trial is going to help us understand what people are using it for so we can improve it in the future.”
If this trial is deemed a success, Nokia plan to turn this service into a fully-fledged free wi-fi service in 2012 and in time for the London Olympics. This trial is so far Nokia’s largest project that they have undertaken in this sector and is perhaps being used as a preliminary run before organising similar trials in cities in Africa and India.
The wi-fi service available around London is currently very fragmented, for example in central London; free wi-fi is generally accessible via solitary access points such as in hotels and public houses.
Due to the fragmented nature of free wi-fi available in London and with the city set to host the majority of the Olympic Games, various plans are being made to make it easier to access fre wi-fi to aid visitors and tourists find their way around the city. Discussions are also taking place about making wi-fi accessible on London tube stations so that passengers can access the internet whilst waiting for trains.