London is home to a new Wi-Fi network that’s not only one of Europe's largest but also among the first to give users mobile coverage similar to a cellular network.
The service, launched today by The Cloud Networks, uses mesh technology to provide continuous connectivity to more than 350,000 users located in the 2.6-square kilometre city borough, in addition to the thousands of people visiting the area each day.
Each Wi-Fi node in the wireless mesh network forwards data to the next nearest node required by users moving inside the service area. Customers of the city service can "walk from one end of the area to the other without losing your connection," a spokesman for the company said.
The Wi-Fi network in London's busy financial sector comes as numerous cities in the region move to provide affordable and secure high-speed wireless internet access to consumers, local businesses and their employees.
The City of London wireless network, which can also support public services such as traffic management and security systems, is part of The Cloud's nationwide Wi-Fi service available for £12 per month for unlimited access with a 12-month contract. The first month is free. Service is also available for £4.50 per hour.
Customers of rival wireless network operators can roam on the The Cloud network and be billed through their service provider.
Nokia, which is subsidising the first month of free usage, is collaborating with The Cloud to promote the use of new Wi-Fi-enabled devices, according to The Cloud spokesman.
BelAir Networks supplied the mesh technology, used to connect the more than 127 Wi-Fi base stations in the financial district.
The Cloud plans to extend the infrastructure across the greater London area.
The operator also intends to roll out meshed wireless Wi-Fi networks in other large UK cities and "is looking at opportunities" in other markets in which it already has hotspots, including Germany and Sweden, the spokesman said.
The company has Wi-Fi coverage in more than 8,500 locations across Europe.