City of London plans for new public Wi-Fi

Deal with CTIL includes provision for 5G infrastructure from turn of the decade

The City of London has struck a deal for the provision of a new WiFi network that will be freely available to anyone within the Square Mile.

City of London aerial viewIt has awarded a 15-year contract to Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure (CTIL) to roll out the network in conjunction with O2.

The company will build a series of 4G ‘small cells’ housed on street furniture such as signs, lampposts and CCTV columns. The move will also provide a footprint for the provision of 5G when it becomes available after 2020.

The network will replace the current service provided by The Cloud and is scheduled to be fully operational by the autumn.

While the move reflects the City’s efforts to retain its position as one of the world’s leading financial centres with the approach of the UK leaving the EU – in which the 5G element could be a crucial factor – the network could also provide a significant element of the digital infrastructure to support public services.

The City said the equipment will ensure high bandwidth to support services such as video calling and video on demand. It will be available free following one-time registration for users.

Essential project

Mark Boleat, chair of the City of London’s policy and resources committee, said: “Free, reliable, high speed wireless internet is a must for any modern, competitive financial centre. That is why I am thrilled to have CTIL deliver this essential project for the Square Mile.

“Soon, residents, visitors and workers in the City will be able to enjoy uninterrupted wireless connectivity, and this project should ensure that wireless ‘black spots’ in the Square Mile become a thing of the past.”

The City has also launched a campaign to make “affordable” gigabit broadband connectivity available within its borders. Among the measures involved are the creation of new standardised legal document to speed up the processes for businesses to get superfast broadband, and pointing fibre providers towards unserved areas.

Image by Michael Gwyther-Jones, CC BY 2.0 through flickr