London to get free Wi-Fi for Olympics

Picture of the Olympic ringsBroadband and mobile provider O2 is going to install huge amounts of free WiFi access points (or hotspots) in London in time for the Olympics, the company has announced. This will plug a major gap in services for visiting spectators and address one of the major criticisms of London as a venue. It doesn't look likely to go anywhere near the actual games, mind you.
The announcement, as seen in the media including the BBC website, refers to Europe's largest free WiFi network being set up in the boroughs of Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea. So it's aimed at tourists rather than anyone actually doing anything connected with the Games, in spite of the apparent link.


Not everyone reading this news blog is a Londoner of course, and not everyone will be familiar with the topology of the capital. So just to clarify, Kensington and Chelsea (one borough) is pretty West of central - Kensington is in W8, for example. Westminster is mostly in W1.

The Olympic village is in E20, a new postcode created in its honour. The "E" stands - of course - for "East". You'll notice that both of the boroughs in the free WiFi catchment areas are in the West, albeit only marginally so in the case of Westminster which is as central as it gets.

Nonetheless as a tourist centre competing with Paris and New York, where there are already free wireless networks, London will benefit from this free provision. It won't support everything you'd do on a home network but it will be OK for social networking and exchanging emails plus a little surfing - just don't try standing in the street en masse and watching the Olympics live on your phone.
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