Workers, residents and visitors to London’s Square Mile will have access to unlimited free Wi-Fi after the City of London Corporation today (18 December 2012) agreed to extend its partnership with The Cloud, the UK’s largest high street Wi-Fi provider. This means the City of London is the first global financial centre to offer a comprehensive free Wi-Fi service to everyone.
The agreement comes after a temporary arrangement with The Cloud to offer Free Wi-Fi proved popular during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, with users of the network increasing by almost 100% compared to the previous three months. Tourists and day-trippers visited the Square Mile during that time to soak up the atmosphere and watch events like the marathon pass through it.
The Cloud was the first public Wi-Fi provider in the UK to provide blanket, city-wide coverage when it first converted the Square Mile into a single Wi-Fi hotspot in 2007. Until now the network has been available to anyone for 15 minutes, before moving to paid-for access. However, after today’s agreement, anyone accessing the network through their smartphone, tablet or laptop can do so for as long as they like, downloading or streaming as much information as they want.
The Cloud, which was bought by BSkyB in January 2011, also provides a free content portal with the latest news from Sky News and Sky Sports News, as well as travel information including live Transport for London travel updates. The Cloud network also offers a family-friendly environment by filtering out adult content on its network.
Mark Boleat, policy chairman at the City of London Corporation, said: ‘The Square Mile is home to 10,000 residents, 400,000 workers, and five million visitors a year. As the world’s leading global financial and business centre, the City of London has one of the biggest concentrations of smartphones in the UK so having the best communications infrastructure in place to access vital information on the move is of critical importance. This partnership between the City of London Corporation and The Cloud will ensure that the Square Mile keeps pace with growing demand in a rapidly evolving technological landscape.’
Vince Russell, managing director of The Cloud, said: ‘The demand for fast, reliable Wi-Fi constantly increases – usage on our network nationwide has doubled in the last 12 months, for instance. The success of our free Wi-Fi service during the Olympics and Paralympics demonstrated that it’s a vital technology for visitors and shoppers as much as the City’s business community, so we’re pleased we can now make it available to everyone, especially at a time when other providers are switching to pay-for-use services.’