The City of London Corporation has today announced that their ultrafast "gigabit speed" capable free public WiFi network, which will be operated by O2 and Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure (CTIL) under a 15 year contract, has finally gone live across the 'Square Mile' area.
The new "multi million pound" network (we're not told how much it's cost), which was built by Virgin Media, UK Power Networks and J B Riney & Co Ltd. (the city's highways contractor) in the space of just 28 weeks, represents an upgrade from the old platform that was provided by The Cloud (Sky Broadband).
The network is said to include over 150 access points (e.g. Small Cells) and many of those have been installed on local street furniture (e.g. street signs, buildings and CCTV columns). However, despite the headline claims of "gigabit" (1000Mbps+) performance, local residents and businesses have been told to expect more realistic "individual user speeds of ranging from 50 to 180 Megabits per second" (you'll probably get even less during busy periods because the capacity has to be shared).
Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman at the City of London Corp, said:
"I am delighted to mark the launch of what will be a real game changer for the City.
As a global financial centre we provide services for a diverse range of City occupiers. With nearly 99% of City firms SMEs, 8% of the workforce from the technology, media and telecommunications industry, and a host of start-ups moving to the City, it is vital that our digital services match the fast-paced needs of our workers.
We also welcomed over 10 million visitors from around the world to the City in 2015, and they too will be able to benefit from an investment sure to brand the City as hub of connectivity."
Jamie Olejnik, Technical Programme Manager at CTIL, said:
"This service not only provides a substantial improvement on the previous service, but also gives comfort to the end-user that it is robust, secure and free with no gimmicks.
This has and continues to be a great opportunity for CTIL and our partners by leading the deployment for the benefit of all users and we are proud to support the City of London in its requirements."
The free network itself merely requires a one-time only registration and it will NOT be blighted by advertisements, which some deployments have adopted in order to help fund similar services. Mind you it's probably not the ideal day to be announcing a new WiFi network but we suspect they've already patched it against KRACK attacks (here).