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Nokia Offering Free Wifi on Oxford Street

BY Boon Koh
Published 23 November 2011

Following the footsteps of other visionary cities around the world, London is taking small steps to offering free wifi throughout central London. Nokia has announced a limited two month trial, offering free wifi at certain locations throughout the city.

The free wifi is being sponsored by Nokia, who are taking baby steps in their experiment to see if the free wifi scheme is a success. With only 26 free wifi hotspots being launched as part of the initial trial, which areas are getting it? The majority of the free hotspots are along Oxford Street, naturally. With huge amounts of pedestrians, especially tourists, all the way from Marble Arch to Bond Street station to Oxford Circus, its the perfect place to run a trial wifi service to see if the network can cope with the demand.

“The trial is going to help us understand what people are using it for so we can improve it in the future,” said Craig Hepburn, Nokia’s director of digital and social media.

But will tourists know about the free wifi? On a recent trip to Oxford Street, I haven’t seen any signs or leaflets indicating about the free wifi. It might go the same way as the free wifi in the Square Mile area of the City – underused because of lack of visibility.

The free wifi hotspots are being installed inside BT phone boxes, and will run at up to 20meg speeds, the same as ADSL. The problem though is that if there’s lots of people connecting to the same free wifi hotspot, then the speed slows down to a crawl – benefiting no-one. But encouragingly, Nokia has stated that if the wifi trial is a success, then they’ll be looking to roll out a thousand free hotspots throughout London.

In any case, check out the map above to see where the initial 26 free wifi hotspots will be in London!