O2 UK said it has started installing Wi-Fi access points in London that will lead to the largest free Wi-Fi network in Europe. O2 UK is partnering with local councils in London to install Wi-Fi access points on lamp posts and other street furniture in areas that are especially popular with tourists and visitors to the London 2012 Olympics.
O2 UK COO Derek McManus said in a statement: "This ground-breaking deal--the first of its kind in the UK--will see us delivering high quality connectivity across London in time for London 2012. 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."
McManus added that O2 UK's £500 million network investment programme was focused on integrating new layers of technology into the existing network. "We are driven entirely by our customers' needs and believe that services should be delivered in the best possible way, across multiple networks and supported by different technologies."
However, the O2 executive declined to provide details on any commercial agreements concerning its London Wi-Fi network, other than confirming that the long-term aim was for the Wi-Fi service to remain free of charge.
The benefit to O2, McManus said, would come from hosting advertising on the O2 Wi-Fi landing page, which will be relevant and targeted to the area where free Wi-Fi is available. "The benefit to us is this model, but also through the agreement to host network equipment on street level furniture, further enhancing our mobile service where it is needed most," O2 UK told ITPro.
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