An ultra-fast Wi-Fi network will be built across the Square Mile in London this year in a bid to improve poor broadband speeds and mobile coverage in parts of the capital.
The City of London Corporation announced it received a green light to replace an existing free Wi-Fi service provided by Sky-owned company The Cloud and implement a new network capable of delivering high bandwidth services including video on demand over free city Wi-Fi.
In a statement, the corporation said the new service “will surpass that found in the world’s other major international financial centre – New York”. The Square Mile is described as the “financial and commercial heart of Britain”, and covers an area of 1.12 square miles.
The upgrade comes after recent research from Z/Yen Group showed other major financial hubs, including Hong Kong, New York and Tokyo were ahead of London in terms of advanced ICT connectivity.
The corporation hailed the project as the single largest investment in wireless infrastructure “ever seen in the city of London”. The network will be rolled out from late spring 2017, with an announcement regarding the provider due to be made in the coming weeks.
Furthermore, more than 400 small cells will be built in the coming months in a bid to boost the strength and reliability of mobile coverage by utilising street objects including lampposts, street signs and buildings.
The make-up of the Square Mile, which houses tall buildings and narrow streets, means mobile services have been unreliable in many parts of the area, added the statement.
“At a time when the other major financial centres are competing with us, the Square Mile is boosting its appeal through initiatives such as this,” said Mark Boleat, chairman of the city of London Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee. “The new service will allow city workers to become better connected than ever before.”
While the project is set to improve broadband speeds and mobile connectivity in the short term – the corporation stated London ranks 26th out of 33 European capitals in terms of broadband speeds – in the long term the network will also pave the way for 5G, which is expected to launch in 2020.