Nokia backs free Wi-Fi in London

Heading to the Big Smoke any time soon? Don’t forget your smartphone: starting today, Nokia is serving up free Wi-Fi for all in 26 hotspots peppered across central London, and it hopes to open it up in other cities soon. Death to OpenZone!

UPDATE: You can see a list of all the locations after the break.

Public Wi-Fi is not a new concept, but as our investigations have shown, it’s also seldom very good. And most of the time, you have to pay for it. Spectrum Interactive’s new initiative, in partnership with Nokia, may be the beginning of the end for that: from now until the end of December, it’s running 26 free hotspots in central London, for any devices, and once you agree to the terms and conditions, you won’t have to log in again.

Spectrum Interactive’s chairman Simon Alberga says speeds are capped at a pretty respectable 1Mbps download and 500Kbps upload. And the sources of all this lovely free data? Spectrum’s pay phone kiosks it maintains – it sounds anarchic, but it could make wider rollout swift and painless, since the company runs 1,800 across the country, 1,000 of which are in London. Alberga also says the project isn’t limited to these however, and is in talks with other companies to use their “street furniture”. For its part, Nokia will show the location of these hubs on Nokia Maps to make them easy to find.

Although the initiative is taking place in central London, Nokia will use the results of the trial to see if it can be iterated elsewhere. “It’s something we want to see, how will this be taken up, how will it be used,” a Nokia spokesperson told journalists this morning. “We’ll look at how we can take those opportunities to other cities in the world…it’s really looking at how we bring all that together.”

The 26 hotspots can be found in the following locations:

Oxford St, Tottenham Court Road, Bloomsbury, South Kensington, Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Lancaster Gate, Bayswater, Westminster, Sloane Square, Victoria, Marylebone

Is this a smart move? Where do you want to see free Wi-Fi next? Let us know in the comments.

Homepage image via EO

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