London becomes a Wi-Fi wonderland for the Olympics

London becomes a Wi-Fi wonderland for the Olympics

Summary: The Olympics has resulted in a Wi-Fi bonanza in London, with a vast array of hotspots offering coverage

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Telecoms companies have rushed to make London as Wi-Fi crammed as possible in time for the Olympics.

BT has added more than 100 hotspots along the Thames, bringing its total number of Wi-Fi access points in the captial to 500,000.

The Wi-Fi access points have been installed along a 27-mile stretch of the Thames on piers, and have been operational since just before the Games. The hotspots, which cost visitors £5.99 for 90 minutes or £10 for a day, are located at popular tourist sites such as the London Eye and the Cutty Sark in Greenwich.

London Eye
BT has set up a 27-mile stretch of Wi-Fi access points along the River Thames.

BT has exclusive control of Wi-Fi at the Olympic Park, with a Wi-Fi deployment of more than 1,000 access points at venues such as the Olympic Stadium, the Aquatics Centre, and the Velodrome.

There is no free Wi-Fi in the Olympic Park, and there are restrictions in place for people setting up and using their own Wi-Fi access points.

Other providers are also offering free Wi-Fi access during the Games.

O2 turned on its free ad-supported Wi-Fi in the West End on 25 July, with access offered in Parliament Square, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street and Regent Street.

Virgin Media has rolled out free Wi-Fi at around 73 London Underground stations. The service has proven popular since the first day of the Games, with 43,932 Tube passengers having registered for the service since Friday 27 July, and 2.7 million online sessions delivered. Other providers, including The Cloud and BT Fon, also offer free Wi-Fi in retail locations across London.

UK telecoms operators have raced to upgrade their infrastructure around London following concerns that the huge additional demand caused by the Olympics would cause outages or slowdowns. So far the capital's broadband infrastructure seems to be coping with the strain.

Topics: Wi-Fi, Mobility, Olympics 2012, United Kingdom

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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6 comments
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  • Tube WiFi

    The coverage in the Tube (underground, metro etc) is patchy, but still its works well enough. Synch up onthe platform, answer emails on train, synch at next stop
    sonnet37
  • What does it mean to the tube commuters after Olympics?

    This is something ain't done right. Do we prioritise Internet access when you are stuck with gsm+3g deadspot down the platform? Internet usage in the platform is fleeting while you find those time precious as you become needy to call someone about your schedule delay or sort. Once you leave the platform, your internet is blacked-out, free Wi-fi so what? The priority is to install a spotless wireless infrastructure in the tube, or not at all, in fear of remote bomb.
    otivaeey@...
  • Update from BT

    Just to clarify the issue about free wifi access. If you're a BT Broadband customer, you can access free wi-fi at over 500,000 locations across London for the duration of the Games, including the Olympic Park. All you have to do is remember to bring your BT Broadband login details. There are more details on the website http://www.btwifi.com

    As you said anyone can access the hot spots. Thanks
    Btwifi
  • Update from BT

    Just to clarify the issue about free wifi access. If you're a BT Broadband customer, you can access free wi-fi at over 500,000 locations across London for the duration of the Games, including the Olympic Park. All you have to do is remember to bring your BT Broadband login details. There are more details on the website http://www.btwifi.com

    As you said anyone can access the hot spots. Thanks
    Btwifi
  • Update from BT

    Just to clarify the issue about free wifi access. If you're a BT Broadband customer, you can access free wi-fi at over 500,000 locations across London for the duration of the Games, including the Olympic Park. All you have to do is remember to bring your BT Broadband login details. There are more details on the website http://www.btwifi.com

    As you said anyone can access the hot spots. Thanks
    Btwifi
  • Update from Tavistock

    After being left out for Wi-Fi in the Library. Requests were made and we now have a hotspot. There is no charge. Tavistock is used to being left out - if the Olympic Torch had been routed any further away it would have been in the sea...
    Tavistock Superfast Broadband