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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 January 2006, 14:52 GMT
City-wide wi-fi rolls out in UK
Woman using laptop in a station
Wi-fi is spreading its wings beyond stations and cafes
A UK company that has created wireless hotspots in stations, coffee shops and hotels around the UK is planning to launch city-wide wi-fi this spring.

The Cloud will bring wireless broadband to nine cities including London, Manchester and Birmingham.

Hundreds of hotzones will be rolled out across the cities, giving access to the internet for anyone using a wi-fi enabled computer or mobile phone.

More cities are expected to be announced during 2006.

The first phase will see hotzones set up in Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford, Cambridge and three London boroughs - Islington, Kensington and Camden.

It is expected that the new wireless internet network will reach more than 4 million people.

Rival phone networks

Each hotzone will turn broadband-speed internet into radio signals to allow people to surf the net, send e-mails, play online games and make cheap phone calls over wi-fi.

"Providing ubiquitous wireless broadband access, over a network that is available to millions of wi-fi devices, and will be available to the new generation of wi-fi phones, gaming devices and other applications will have a major impact on the way people communicate, work and play in city centres," said George Polk, chief executive of The Cloud.

The hotzones will rival existing mobile phone networks.

Around 25 mobile phone handsets currently have wi-fi chips installed. Pressing a button on the phone allows users to bypass their own mobile phone network to connect to the internet and make cheap broadband phone calls.

Initially the networks will be available to people using BT Openzone, O2, SkypeZones and Nintendo WiFi but The Cloud hopes other service providers will want to join the party.

The wi-fi firm currently has around 6,000 hotspot locations throughout the UK, Sweden and Germany.

It recently launched a network in Canary Wharf which it claims to be Europe's largest wi-fi enabled financial area.




SEE ALSO:
Wi-fi cities spark hotspot debate
20 Oct 05 |  Technology
Internet phone calls on the rise
03 Nov 05 |  Technology
Bard's home town goes wireless
29 Jun 05 |  Technology
Wireless hijacking under scrutiny
28 Jul 05 |  Technology
Hotspot users gain free net calls
03 Mar 05 |  Technology


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