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November 1, 2011

Nokia plans free London Wi-Fi rollout

Services will cover any Wi-Fi device

By Steve Evans

Nokia London Wi-Fi
Nokia Wi-Fi hotspots across London

Nokia has starting trialling free Wi-Fi access in Central London with a view to rolling out a full service city-wide in early 2012.

The service will not be limited to Nokia devices, the company confirmed, and anyone with a Wi-Fi-enabled device will be able to use it.

The Finnish mobile phone giant has teamed up with Wi-Fi provider Spectrum Interactive to initially offer the service in 26 hotspots across England’s capital, although many are located along Oxford Street and none are south of the river Thames.

The hotspots are located in phone boxes dotted around London. Once London’s supply of available phone boxes is exhausted, Spectrum Interactive said its hotspots could be placed on other pieces of street furniture.

The trail is now live and will run until the end of December. If it proves successful the firms will be looking to start a large-scale rollout early next year. The company confirmed it is looking at a number of different plans for monetising the venture, with the most likely outcome being adverts on the service.

At an event held in London this morning, Nokia said the trial will look at what sort of demand there is for the service and how people will be using it. Users will not be required to provide any personal details but will be required to agree to terms and conditions. Once access is granted access will be unrestricted. Nokia pointed out that no personal details or browsing habits will be recorded by the company.

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The infrastructure is built on a 20Mbps service but download speeds for users will be limited to 1Mbps and 0.5Mbps for uploads to ensure the network is not overloaded, Spectrum Interactive’s chairman Simon Alberga told the press conference.

Alberga said that his company’s Wi-Fi hotspots are focused on places such as airports and hotels, where people are "dwell for a while, but use of Wi-Fi is evolving and is being used in places where people will only be for a short while."

Areas of London covered by the trial include: Oxford St, Tottenham Court Road, Bloomsbury, South Kensington, Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Lancaster Gate, Bayswater, Westminster, Sloane Square, Victoria and Marylebone.

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