UK mobile operator O2 claims to be ready to construct Europe’s largest free Wi-Fi hub, after inking landmark deals with two local London councils.
The agreements will see the firm begin construction of the network this month, and eventually cover all parts of Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster. The firm plans to install necessary equipment on existing street furniture.
However, the uncertain nature of when O2 can access that street furniture means the firm is cagey about when coverage of the network – named O2 Wi-Fi - will be extended to all parts of the three districts. The firm states only that expansion will happen “over the longer term.”
Despite the lack of detail, the operator claims the network will benefit visitors attending summer events including the Olympics and celebrations for the Queen’s diamond jubilee.
O2 will dip into a £500 million (€604 million) new technology investment pot to cover the cost of deploying the network, chief operating officer Derek McManus says. He claims the council agreements are the first of their kind in the UK market, and will form the basis of future collaborations. “Our longer-term aim is to expand our footprint of O2 Wi-Fi, which is open to everyone, and also intelligently enhance our services at street level, where people need the network the most,” he notes.