Arqiva, the communications infrastructure and media services company, has been awarded the exclusive rights to provide outdoor wireless connectivity to residents and visitors to Camden, Wandsworth, Hounslow, Islington and Hammersmith & Fulham.
The service will provide users with unlimited, free access to the council’s online services 24/7 as well as providing the first 30 minutes of use per day for free.
The deployment of the Wi-Fi service will take place over the next 12 months, starting in high footfall areas such as high streets. Making use of its already extensive portfolio of phone boxes, rooftops and other buildings, Arqiva will also incorporate street infrastructure made available by all five boroughs.
Nicolas Ott, managing director, government, mobile and enterprise at Arqiva, said: ‘We are delighted to be working with all five boroughs. Our partnership means that more than 1.1million residents, businesses and visitors to these areas will benefit from the fast connectivity which we all have come to expect, wherever we are.
‘This project will involve the breadth of Arqiva’s solutions and will see the combined deployment of Wi-Fi and 3G/4G small cells to provide indoor and outdoor coverage across several London Boroughs. It is a very exciting partnership, which will complement the other locations in London where Arqiva already provides Wi-Fi (hotels, restaurants, pubs, and shopping centres) to deliver a truly unique user experience.’
Councillor Theo Blackwell, Camden Cabinet member for Finance, said: ‘Our aim is to make Camden one of the most connected places in the country. This is great news for residents who will be able to access Wi-Fi services in public and open spaces. It will also be a huge benefit to businesses who will be able to trial new advertising techniques to better target their customers.
‘Our large number of visitors and tourists will benefit from being able to access online information about events nearby and find information to visit local shops, bars and restaurants.’
Wandsworth council leader, Cllr Ravi Govindia, said: ‘By giving our residents free access to the internet for the 30 minutes - and our site for as long as they like - we will make sure nobody loses out. It will also help our business community and mean all our young people - even those without internet access at home - can find out about training and employment opportunities.’
Cllr Pritam Grewal, cabinet member for communications and communities at Hounslow Council, added: ‘We are delighted that residents and visitors to Hounslow will soon benefit from free public Wi-Fi in some of the busiest outdoor areas of the borough. We hope that it will help our diverse communities stay connected and ensure that our entrepreneurial and vibrant local economy continues to grow.’
Finally, Cllr Greg Smith, H&F Council deputy leader, said: ‘This is a fantastic deal for taxpayers and the council. We know that many of our residents still do not have online access, so this deal will open up a new digital world to them. This will make it easier than ever for our residents to get online. It will also make it easier for people to access council services online wherever they are and they will help us keep reducing council tax bills.’