CabWiFi: Would you swap 15 seconds of your time for 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi?

A new service is set to launch in London next year that will offer cab customers 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi access in exchange for sitting through a short advertisement.

A London Tech City start-up called Eyetease, based in Google's Campus incubator in the 'Silicon Roundabout' area of East London, will soon start offering free Wi-Fi access to customers in black cabs in exchange for 15 seconds of their attention.

London taxis
A new service is set to launch in London next year that will offer cab customers 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi in exchange for sitting through a short advert.

The company has taken two years to get to the point of getting the green light from Transport for London (TfL), but has now been allowed to go ahead with the scheme, chief executive of the company, Richard Corbett, confirmed in a blog post last week. 

Users of the service will get 15 minutes of free "high-speed" Wi-Fi access after sitting through a 15-second video advertisement.

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"This is really great news for London. With dwell times averaging 15 minutes in the back of a taxi, what better way to pass the time than to use your laptop, tablet, book reader or phone with guilt-free internet access," Corbett said.

"Tourists and business travellers can now access their emails, talk on Skype or surf the web without the fear of being hit with high data roaming charges when they return home," he added.

The company said it is already in "progressed conversations" with major consumer brands that include a credit-card company and a mobile manufacturer to sponsor the rollout of the service in "early 2013".

London dwellers and visitors to the capital can also get online for free on Virgin Media's London Underground Wi-Fi network until the end of 2012 . From next year, Virgin Media said it would start charging non-customers for access; however, customers on the EE, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone networks will still be able to use it for free as a result of a wholesale deal between the operators and Virgin Media.

The Tech City area of London received a boost last week with the announcement of a  £50m cash injection from the UK government to help support fledgling companies and build a new start-up centre there.