Camden first London borough to get ‘free’ public wi-fi

15/05/2013

Camden is to become the first of 17 London boroughs to offer residents and visitors with free public wi-fi, but only for 30 minutes a day.

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Starting in Camden next month, the new 10-year deal is powered by telecoms giant Arqiva and forms part of a wider project between 17 of London’s 33 boroughs.

As part of the project, extra effort will also be put towards supporting both digital innovation in local firms and tackling digital exclusion.

The scheme lets telecoms operators to “piggy-back” on each councils existing infrastructure, such as by placing small cells (WiFi, 3G and 4G) on lamp posts and bus shelters.

It proposes that income would be generated through a mix of advertising and paid options, once a users’ first 30 minutes of free use have been used up.

Councillor Theo Blackwell, Camden’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “Our aim is to make Camden one of the most connected places in the country. This is great news for residents who will be able to access Wi-Fi services in public and open spaces. It will also be a huge benefit to businesses who will be able to trial new advertising techniques to better target their customers.

“Our large number of visitors and tourists will benefit from being able to access online information about events nearby and find information to visit local shops, bars and restaurants.”
The service begins its roll-out from 1st June 2013 and the deployment across all 17 boroughs is expected to complete by the end of 2014 and will focus on covering areas which have the “highest demand first“.

Phase one of the roll-out will target the South of Camden in areas of high footfall and the remaining phases will cover Camden Town and Kentish Town, followed by Kilburn, Finchley, Hampstead and Belsize Park. In addition users of the service will be able to access Camden Council’s online services free of charge 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

The other boroughs are imminently expected to follow suit.

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