- SMB Spotlight
Four London boroughs – Barnet, Harrow, Haringey and Brent – have announced plans to roll out free WiFi, in the latest push to increase internet access across the capital.
The project will be led by Arqiva, which is already working with five other London boroughs (Camden, Wandsworth, Hounslow, Islington, and Hammersmith and Fulham) on similar projects, which are all still in progress.
Arqiva has also signed deals with Medway and Southampton City Councils, as local authorities look to ensure all residents can access the web when out and about.
The firm said rollouts would be taking place over the next 12 months. Arqiva will use a mix of 3G and 4G small-cell technologies fixed to council street infrastructure such as lampposts to ensure coverage in high-footfall areas.
The service will offer 30 minutes of free use per day, and charges will range from £5 a day to £30 a month for further access.
Nicolas Ott, the managing director for telecoms at Arqiva, said the deals underlined the desire to provide good WiFi access in urban environments.
“We are very happy to be working with an increasing number of local authorities and city centres to help them realise their digital ambitions," he said. "Our WiFi and small-cells portfolio continues to go from strength to strength; over the past 15 months we have doubled the number of access points deployed."
Councillor Susan Hall, leader of Harrow Council, said bringing free WiFi to the area would be a real boost for residents and visitors.
“Harrow is increasing in importance both as a business hub and a shopping centre, and we need to be able to offer our visitors and employees the ability to stay in touch while on the move,” she said.
“This innovative deal shows that whether you are a smartphone user checking email, dipping into a good book on a tablet or using a laptop for the office, Harrow town centre is tech friendly and open for business.”
Councillor Simon Letts, leader of Southampton City Council, was similarly effusive about the deal, claiming that signing the deal would bring “many potential social and economic benefits to the city”.
Arqiva confirmed to V3 that the previous rollouts should all be live by the end of March, with Camden's service already up and running.