UK-wide Wi-Fi network proposed by O2

by PYB James | Jan 26, 2011

The size of Britain's free wi-fi network is set to be doubled by 2013 in a new scheme announced by O2.

450 new sites, with many more planned, will be available for free via a quick sign-up process. Non-O2 customers will also be able to use the service, unlike previous schemes such as The Cloud, with over 22,000 hotspots, and BT Openzone, currently the most popular in the UK. O2 plans to generate the revenue through extra advertising capital.

With smartphones being used for internet access every day, O2 see the scheme as a step up to the increased demand. Analyst Jeremy Green said that “it it is a gesture in the right direction.”

Other telecommunications companies, such as BT and Virgin Media, are keen to expand their hotspot availability. BT recently produced apps for the iPad and Android-enabled tablets that allowed customers subscribed to their home broadband service to use their hotspots. The app has been popular, with over 400,000 downloads.

Whilst working on their 4G network, O2 are keen for customers to realise the possibilities of public wireless connections.

Business development director Tim Sefton stated that “only 20% of people who have access to free public wi-fi on O2 tariffs actively use it despite the majority of devices being wi-fi enabled. We know that wi-fi as a technology has great potential and can be a very fast service, however customers are discouraged by barriers which include complexity in activation, uncertainty of where wi-fi is free and the variable quality of the current experience.”

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