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O2 To Offer Olympic Size Hot Spots For 2012

Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea are to offer free Wi-Fi connectivity in time for the Olymic Games and Diamond Jubilee

O2 has joined BT and Virgin in offering free Wi-Fi to the public by launching Europe’s largest free Wi-Fi zone, according to reports.

This is after the operator was awarded the contract by Westminster City Council and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, to make free Internet access available in those areas.

Let the downloads begin

In a statement, O2 said the implementation which will begin this month once the Metro wireless network is installed on street furniture such as street poles and lamp posts, will run at no cost to the councils or the taxpayer.

“It will initially be rolled out in a limited number of areas and then throughout the boroughs over the longer term,” said the statement, adding that O2 Wi-Fi launched in January 2011 with the ambition to rollout free, fast and open Wi-Fi, via strategic partnerships, across the UK.

Through this deal, both councils plan to ensure that the millions of visitors that come to the city “have the best experience possible and can make the most of what London has to offer”.

Councilor Philippa Roe, Cabinet Member for Strategic Finance at Westminster City Council said that Westminster has over a million tourists a day, is home to 250,000 residents, employs over half a million people and sees 4,000 business starts-ups each year. “Next summer’s Olympic Games mean that London will be putting on the biggest show on earth and as Westminster has a starring role, visitors to London will easily be able to share their pictures and updates of the Olympic events across social networking sites,” she said.

Free Wi-Fi is growing rapidly in the UK with the service being offered in a Nokia trial across 26 locations in London, shoppers being able to surf in-store as part of Tesco’s Wi-Fi network and Londoners enjoying free Wi-Fi at 100 London pubs courtesy of  BT and Heineken. Last year Virgin said that it was looking into Wi-Fi options in its network, and in 2011, BT began offering free Wi-Fi at the Charing Cross Tube station.

According to the BBC, Paris already has several hundred individual Wi-Fi zones offer free connections in public parks and municipal spaces, while New York offers free Wi-Fi in parks and wireless Internet access at several subway stations.