London's classic black cabs will be able to offer free Wi-Fi access to passengers in the New Year after Transport for London (TfL) approved a project run by Tech City start-up EyeTease to provide connectivity in the iconic cars.
The system, called CabWifi, allows passengers 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi access during a journey after they've watched a 15 second advert. It works by latching on to 3G and 4G signals and turning it into a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Drivers will also be able to access the system with their own login so they can avoid using data connections for their phones when travelling around, the firm said.
EyeTease is now working with several companies about possible sponsorship opportunities with the aim of having the service live by early 2013.
"With dwell times averaging 15 minutes in the back of a taxi, what better way to pass the time than to use your laptop, tablet, book reader or phone with free internet access," said chief executive of EyeTease Richard Corbett.
"Tourists and business travellers can now access their emails, talk on Skype or surf the web without the fear of being hit with high data roaming charges."
TfL confirmed it had given the approval as part of its work to try and enhance access to the web for visitors to the city.
"We will always seek to explore innovative ways to improve the experience of passengers in London's iconic black cabs," a spokesperson told V3.
"As part of this work, we have been in discussion with a company who want to provide Wi-Fi in black cabs and we have given them approval to introduce services in [taxis] "
The planned launch of the services adds to the growing availability of Wi-Fi services in the capital after the launch of services on the Underground by Virgin Media.
EyeTease has offices at the Google Campus building in Silicon Roundabout.
Last week the government announced a further cash injection of £50m to the area in a move to boost its capabilities and office spaces to help its growth continue.
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