London Gets Connected
UK mobile network provider O2 will provide London’s boroughs of Westminster, Chelsea and Kensington with free wireless internet access this year, creating the largest free wi-fi zone in Europe.
O2 aims to provide free unlimited wi-fi to smartphone and tablet users throughout these boroughs by July 2012, facilitating greater connectivity and access to information in time for the Olympic Games. If the scheme proves successful, O2 plans to expand the service throughout London.
Luxury hotels such as the Dorchester Hotel London charge up to £19.50 for 24-hour internet access, although its sister hotel 45 Park Lane offers free wi-fi. This latest move by O2 will provide consumers staying in these particular boroughs with little or no need to succumb to such extortionate charges.
Elsewhere, South Korea – widely known as the most connected country in the world – is planning to provide free wi-fi throughout Seoul’s public spaces, including 360 parks, by 2015. Meanwhile, New York is in the second year of its five-year plan to provide complimentary wi-fi in 20 of its parks, demonstrating the growth and demand for free access in large cities, no doubt linked to the proliferation of smartphones. The potential for businesses and m-commerce is significant.