co has been chosen by O2 to spearhead a project to roll-out free, public access WiFi in the City of London.

The initiative, also in conjunction with Cornerstone Telecommunication Infrastructure (CTIL) and local authority, the City of London Corporation, will see Cisco deploying next generation outdoor access point technology to offer internet connectivity to more than 400,000 people working in the City. The multi-million pound project replaces the current service provided by The Cloud and will be fully operational by Autumn 2017. According to a survey carried out by IHS Markit on behalf of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), London is the most connected city, with just 7% of the population not online.

Utilising Cisco’s Aironet 1560 Series wireless infrastructure, the aim is for the network to be more technically advanced than wireless networks in other leading global financial centres, including New York and Singapore. Rival BT launched a 1Gbps public WiFi service in London last month.

"Free Wi-Fi connectivity is now a pre-requisite for any city looking to drive innovation and compete on a globe scale," said Peter Karlstromer, the senior vice president for Global Service Provider, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia, at Cisco. "The deployment with O2, and partnership with CTIL and the City of London, is a perfect example of the role that cities can play in connecting people. We are excited to continue to support the roll out of free WiFi across London and ensure that next generation connectivity is accessible to everyone."

Derek McManus, the chief operating officer of O2, which has recently complained that 5G spectrum caps are insufficient to preserve competition, added: "Continued investment in infrastructure is essential to maintain the UK’s reputation as a digital leader and we needed a partner that would be able to provide cutting-edge technology to help us realise this. We’re pleased to be working with Cisco to support this initiative using its robust, speedy and seamless technology to create a WiFi network and enable the capital to help retain its position as a leading global centre."