O2 to build Europe’s largest free Wi-Fi zone

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Operator to offer free Wi-Fi access across London boroughs of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea in time for the 2012 Olympic games

O2 is working with two London councils to build Europe’s largest free Wi-Fi zone ahead of the London Olympics.

The operator is installing Wi-Fi access points in street furniture across the London boroughs of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea.

Wi-Fi access will initially be rolled out to a small number of areas, but will eventually be expanded to cover the entirety of both boroughs.

Neither the councils nor the taxpayer are paying for setting up or running the Wi-Fi zone.

O2 chief operating officer Derek McManus said: “This ground-breaking deal is the first of its kind in the UK and will see us deliver high quality connectivity across London in time for London 2012.

“Our longer-term aim is to expand our footprint of O2 Wifi, which is open to everyone, and also intelligently enhance our services at street level, where people need the network the most.

“Our £500m annual network investment programme is focussed on integrating new layers of technology into the existing network to enable a seamless and sustained customer experience.”

Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea deputy leader and cabinet member for environment Cllr Nicholas Paget-Brown said: “I am very pleased that we have been able to come to this agreement and we look forward to working with O2.

“Residents and visitors having free access to the latest mobile technology will help us to continue to offer value for money for residents.”

Westminster City Council cabinet member for strategic finance Cllr Philippa Roe said: “Westminster welcomes 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.”

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