The UK’s fastest free Wi-Fi network just went live in the City of London

O2 and Cisco have joined forces to roll out superfast, free, public Wi-Fi across the City of London.

The UK's fastest free Wi-Fi network just went live in the City of London

Cisco, with the help of O2’s network and the support of Cornerstone Telecommunication Infrastructure (CTIL) and the City of London Corporation, has installed more than 150 outdoor access points at various points in the Square Mile as part of the City Wi-Fi scheme.

In particular, the project will use Cisco’s Aironet 1560 Series of Wi-Fi access points, designed for outdoor wireless networks, to add throughput capacity needed for today’s bandwidth-hungry devices. The project even claims the technology will make the network “more technically advanced” than those in New York and Singapore. The Aironet 1560 is an outdoor router that lets users transmit data to multiple devices at the same time over 802.11ac Wave 2.

This offers speeds ranging from 50 to 180 megabits per second.

Users will need to hand over their email address, or link a social account, the first time they use the network but will then get high bandwidth services, free from ads, at “over 10 times faster speeds than previously available in the area”. In theory, this would let users download a film (700 megabytes) in less than two minutes while a standard broadband line (10 megabits per second) would take around 12 minutes.

“Free Wi-Fi connectivity is now a prerequisite for any city looking to drive innovation and compete on a globe scale,” highlights Peter Karlstromer, SVP of Cisco’s Global Service Provider for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia.

The project replaces the current service provided by The Cloud. Cisco said it has no plans to roll out the technology further.

This initiative follows the launch of BT’s own LinkUK free Wi-Fi access points recently installed in the Borough of Camden. The scheme involves turning abandoned phone boxes in London and other major UK cities into Wi-Fi hotspots offering free calls and digital services.

BT has partnered with Intersection and Primesight to launch LinkUK, following the launch of LinkNYC in New York in January 2016 and the partnership was first announced in October.

The first of these InLinks have been installed on Camden High Street. Up to 100 InLinks are expected to be installed elsewhere in the borough over the coming months and at least 750 InLinks will be installed across London and other major UK cities in the next few years. The exact locations and timings have not been announced.

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