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Free Wi-Fi comes to London's 'Square Mile'

The Cloud is offering everyone in London's 'Square Mile' a free, unlimited Wi-Fi service after signing a new deal with the City of London Corporation.
Written by Sam Shead, Contributor

Public Wi-Fi hotspot provider The Cloud is offering people in the City of London unlimited free Wi-Fi from Tuesday.

The Cloud — owned by BSkyB — is offering unlimited free access to the public Wi-Fi service following an extension of its agreement with the City of London Corporation, the company said in an announcement on Monday.

City of London
The Cloud is opening up its Wi-Fi service in the City of London to all.

"As the world's leading global financial and business centre, the City of London has one of the biggest concentrations of smartphones in the UK so having the best communications infrastructure in place to access vital information on the move is of critical importance," said Mark Boleat, policy chairman at the City of London Corporation. 

The Cloud opened up its London Wi-Fi service in the area to unlimited free use for the duration of the London 2012 Olympics. In September, it returned to its previous model of limiting free sessions to 15 minutes, after which users had to pay for the service.

However, the company decided to make the switch back to the free model once it saw how many extra users it picked up over the summer.

"The agreement comes after a temporary arrangement with The Cloud to offer free Wi-Fi proved popular during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, with users of the network increasing by almost 100 percent compared to the previous three months," The Cloud said.

Under the new deal, the service will now be funded by advertising. 

In addition to adverts, the service will deliver the latest news from Sky News and Sky Sports News, as well as travel information from Transport for London (TfL). 

Users in The City of London area (which covers around 1.1 square miles bordered by the River Thames to the south, Barbican to the north, Aldgate in the east and Chancery Lane to the west) should expect maximum speeds of around 5Mbps, a City of London Corporation spokesman told ZDNet.

Free Wi-Fi is offered by other providers in various locations across London. For example, O2 rolled out unlimited free Wi-Fi across Westminster in July this year when it installed hotspots to "street furniture" in the area. Meanwhile, Virgin Media is also offering Wi-Fi at an increasing number of Tube stations across London. However, while this service is currently free to all, there will be restrictions introduced at the beginning of 2013.

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