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WiFi networks are ready to take the strain of Olympic mobile demand

BT, O2 and Virgin Media in pole position to deliver widespread internet coverage
Wed Jul 11 2012, 09:00
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WIFI is becoming ubiquitous. Every week there are more announcements from companies touting the rollout of internet access in coffee shops, hotels, across streets and even deep underground.

This is great news for smartphone and tablet users as it offers yet more chances to get online on fast, solid internet connections and away from the somewhat hit-or-miss experience that mobile data services on 2G and 3G can be.

Of course, if the government, Ofcom and mobile operators had got their act together we'd have 4G services by now, offering far superior data capacity and web browsing speed, but due to numerous delays the Olympic Games will be in Brazil in 2016 before 4G services are in widespread use in the UK.

Nevertheless, while we might not have 4G services yet, we should be able to cater to those attending the Games this Summer thanks to the aforementioned WiFi rollouts that have taken place across the capital.

Perhaps the most notable of these has been Virgin Media's work in putting internet access into the Victorian-era London Underground tube network, with 80 stations set to come online in time for the Games, with over 40 already live and offering free internet access on station platforms.

After the Games, the service will have to be paid for by those that want to use it, but to begin with all visitors and locals alike can get online when far below London's streets to access emails, read Twitter and of course keep up to date with all the Olympic results.

Elsewhere in London, O2 has been busy rolling out services in Kensington and Chelsea, which it claims will make the largest free WiFi network in the UK, open to both its own customers and local residents.

It has also embarked on an extensive installation of services in commercial venues such as 1,200 McDonalds and 120 sites owned by Tragus, which include Café Rouge, Strada and Bella Italia.

In fact, even those travelling from the continent by the Channel Tunnel will have internet access, with Alcatel Lucent offering 2G and 3G services on trains using its technology, although there's no sign of WiFi under the sea just yet.

However, it is at the Olympic Park that WiFi is likely to play the biggest role, as with thousands of eager fans expected in the park during the event, the demand for internet access on mobile networks is going to be huge.

As such, BT's rollout of WiFi services across the site, running over Cisco's network infrastructure installed at the venue, is going to be of huge benefit.


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