BELEAGURED FINNISH PHONE FIRM Nokia has backed out of a project to offer free WiFi in London just six months after launching the scheme.
As we reported last year, Nokia kicked off the trial in conjunction with WiFi provider Spectrum Interactive and location-based advertising firm Selective Media to provide free WiFi access from 26 locations at public phone boxes in London.
The access points were built in key areas around the capital including Oxford Street, Tottenham Court Road, Bloomsbury, South Kensington, Marylebone, Mayfair and Victoria.
The project was announced amid much fanfare at the start of November 2011, around the time that Nokia was cranking up its marketing machine for the launch of the Lumia 800 Windows Phone.
However, it has emerged that Nokia has pulled the plug on its involvement, and has given no reasons for the about-face.
"Nokia were sponsors of the initial trial, although we are no longer involved in the project we are delighted to see the roll out offering more London Shoppers the opportunity to use WiFi," a spokesperson told The INQUIRER.
At the time of the launch Simon Alberga, executive chairman of Spectrum Interactive said that the trial is the first step towards bringing free WiFi to the streets of London and that users' behaviour will be evaluated to improve the service.
"We see Wi-Fi evolving into a free service in areas such as restaurants and it is because people are coming in for a relatively short period of time. In these cases, Wi-Fi is provided as a free service and it is being funded by a partner, sponsor or an advertising business model," he said at the launch of the trial in Soho today.
"We're using the trial to evaluate demand and if everyone wants to stream video then we can easily upgrade the bandwidth. We can vary speeds at different locations, to provide users with the bandwidth that they need."
A spokesperson from Selective Media told The INQUIRER that Nokia only agreed to sponsor the provision of free WiFi for a two month period as part of its Amazing Everyday campaign, supporting the Lumia 800 launch, saying, "Following that campaign, Selective Media and Spectrum Interactive are now giving more brands the chance to target users of the free Wi-Fi hotspots with mobile vouchers." µ