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Wi-Fi sky to cover nine cities

Business to bring wireless access to entire cities

A UK company has announced a major initiative to bring wireless broadband blanket coverage to nine British cities.

The company, called The Cloud, has already created wireless zones in airports, railway stations, pubs and hotels around the UK.

From this Spring, around 500 BT payphones in Birmingham, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Oxford, as well as in the London boroughs of Camden, Islington and Kensington and Chelsea, will be fitted with ‘Wi-Fi’ (wireless fidelity) boxes to create a ‘cloud’ of coverage.

This should allow more than 4 million people to connect to the internet without wires and it’s expected that further coverage areas will be announced throughout this year.

Wi-Fi hotzones work by turning broadband-speed internet into radio signals which can then be accessed by laptops, PDAs, hand-held games consoles and Wi-Fi-enabled mobile phones, to allow quick and easy internet access.

Turn on and log on

The Cloud says its city-centre initiative will mean people can access the internet wherever they are by turning on their device and logging on. They will then be able to send emails, surf the internet, access work networks and play games online over Wi-Fi from wherever they are within the city centre.

The new city networks will immediately be available to people using BT Openzone, O2, SkypeZones, and Nintendo WiFi. The Cloud hopes other service providers will soon sign up.

Its Chief Executive, George Polk, said; ‘This is the first time anyone has brought wireless internet access to the UK public on this scale. Providing ubiquitous wireless broadband access, over a network that is available to millions of Wi-Fi devices, and will be available to the new generation of Wi-Fi phones, gaming devices, and other applications, will have a major impact on the way people communicate, work and play in city centres.’

Derek Wyatt MP, who leads the parliamentary All Party Internet Group, welcomed the move: ‘This initiative is going to open up broadband speed internet access to a vast and varied number of people. The fact that The Cloud network allows people to choose their own service provider means as many as possible will be allowed access to the Wi-Fi. Such a large-scale project is an exciting prospect for communications in the UK, allowing people to send emails, make cheap phone calls, surf the internet, do business and even play games online, wherever they are.’

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