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O2 Will Operate New High Speed City Of London Wi-Fi Network

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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O2 Wi-Fi and Telefonica-Vodafone joint venture Cornerstone to roll out small cell powered wireless

O2 will operate the new free high speed Wi-Fi network in the City of London, which will come into operation later in 2017.

The operator is partnering with Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure (CTIL) to roll out and manage small cells using street furniture such as lampposts, signs and CCTV cameras.

The City claims it is one of the largest investments ever made in wireless infrastructure in the capital and will be fast enough to stream video.

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

City of London Wi-Fi

More than 400 small cells will be installed to help bring superior connectivity amidst the numerous tall buildings in the area and prepare the Square Mile for the advent of 5G networks in the early 2020s.

 “Free, reliable, high-speed wireless internet is a must for any modern, competitive financial centre,” said Mark Boleat from the City of London corporation.

“Soon, residents, visitors and workers in the City will be able to enjoy uninterrupted wireless connectivity, and this project should ensure that wireless ‘black spots’ in the Square Mile become a thing of the past.”

Plans to replace the current free Wi-Fi service provided by Sky’s The Cloud were first disclosed in January and run parallel with a campaign to bring more affordable gigabit broadband to  London’s financial district.

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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