Nokia launches free Wi-Fi service in central London

Nokia, only a week after it was in the British capital for its annual Nokia World 2011 conference, is to offer free Wi-Fi service to Londonders.

Nokia has switched on a trial of its new Wi-Fi service in central London, in a bid to increase its presence around the British capital, and contend with existing providers of wireless networking in the city.

The free Wi-Fi service launched this morning, and will be available until the end of year, where users can access the high-speed network free of charge. If deemed a success, the service could be provided on a permanent basis starting in early 2012.

(Image source: CNET)

Supported by 26 separate hotspots, the Wi-Fi service is spread across central London, focusing on the West End and shopping districts, along with places of tourist interest.

According to the BBC, the hotspots run at 20Mbps, but download speeds are limited to a maximum of 1Mbps per user, to allow a greater quality of service for those connected. Upload speeds are half that, running at around 500Kbps.

Nokia and Windows Phone smartphone users will be able to find hotspot locations using its Maps application, as part of the company's move to publicise the service further.

Unlike existing services provided by mobile phone giant O2, and telecoms firm BT, Nokia's service will be one-click-and-go, without the need to provide personal details or a paid subscription. Terms and conditions of the service will have to be accepted before users can access the free Wi-Fi, however.

Users will be able to connect through any wireless compatible device -- from tablets such as iPads, smartphones, laptops or netbooks.

If the service is successful, Nokia revealed that it could roll out free Wi-Fi service to developing nations, like India and Africa, where mobile network coverage is rare and at best, poor.