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City Of London Invests In Wireless Gigabit Broadband

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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‘World class’ high speed wireless network to replace The Cloud’s free Wi-Fi network in London’s square mile

The City of London will see big connectivity improvements in the square mile with the proposal to install a ‘world-class wireless network’ that will provide gigabit speeds.

The new network will replace the current free Wi-Fi service provided by the Cloud in the financial district.

It comes after years of complaints to BT about the  lack of affordable superfast broadband in the Square Mile.

City of London (c) r.nagy , Shutterstock 2013Wireless Network

The proposal for the gigabit wireless network has been given the ‘green light’ and should allow for high bandwidth services such as video on demand over free City Wi-Fi for the first time.

It is claimed the new network will “surpass that found in the world’s other major international financial centre – New York.”

According to the City of London, the wireless project is “the single largest investment in wireless infrastructure ever seen in the City of London and will be rolled out from late spring 2017.”

In the new couple of weeks the winning network provider will be revealed.

The idea is that the new network will utilise existing street objects such as lampposts, street signs, buildings and CCTV columns. Over 400 ‘small cells’ will be installed on these street objects to bolster signal strength and reliability.

It should be remembered that as the City is swamped with tall buildings coupled with narrow streets, it means that mobile reception can sometimes be problematic in the square mile.

“As the world’s leading financial hub, we are thrilled to bring our wireless connectivity up to speed,” said Mark Boleat, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee.

“At a time when other major financial centres are competing with us, the Square Mile is boosting its appeal through initiatives such as this,” said Boleat. “The new service will allow City workers to become better connected than ever before.”

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This point was echoed by the Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal.

“Fast and reliable digital connectivity is crucial for businesses and I’m really pleased the City of London Corporation is taking this significant step in improving speed and coverage in the Square Mile,” said Agrawal. “The Mayor is committed to improving London’s connectivity, including tackling the capital’s ‘notspots’ and ensuring providers have better access to public-sector property for digital infrastructure.”

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London Connectivity

The City of London has long complained a lack of affordable superfast broadband in the Square Mile, which it said harmed businesses and made the capital’s financial centre less attractive to global companies.

To combat this it launched a new standardised legal document in July 2016 to speed up the process for businesses to get superfast broadband. The City of London Corporation drew up the ‘wayleaves’ document by working with London’s main developers, landlords, broadband operators, property managers, Government, legal firms and key trade associations.

Previously, business tenants had faced long negotiations with providers to agree new wayleaves from scratch each time they wanted to get broadband fibre installed.

The City of London Corporation pointed out that London currently suffers from poor broadband speeds with four of the 12 constituencies with the worst superfast broadband being found in the capital – including the City and Westminster.

Indeed, it says that London is ranked 26th out of 33 European capitals in terms of broadband speed.

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