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Free WiFi launched in London

We are increasingly living in a wireless world. WiFi hotspots continue to proliferate in coffee shops, libraries, hotels, and are now, with ambitious plans afoot for blanket coverage, even beginning to spread over entire cities. With more and more of the country kitted out with WiFi enabled laptops and a burgeoning new generation of WiFi phones and gaming equipment it seems we're entering a brave new world of universal connectivity. It isn't inconceivable to imagine a not too distant future in which you'll be able to access the internet virtually anywhere at anytime. The latest Wireless network venture in London will see a 22km stretch along the River Thames converted into a giant WiFi hotspot.

Running from Millbank to Greenwich the network will be free to those who don't mind limited download speeds of 256kbps and for those who want a bit more speed, 2.95 an hour or 9.95 a month will buy you 500kbps.

According to MeshHopper the company behind the venture which is being branded as "online-4-free", the one condition for those using the free service is that they'll be required to view 15 to 30 second ads every 15 minutes, those paying for the faster service won't have to. This venture is being heralded as important not just for its huge scale but because it's free. It follows on the back of a city-wide service launched in Norwich last year and anticipates a free network due to be launched in Manchester in August. According to Dan Toomey, chief executive of Free-hotspot who joined forces with MeshHopper in the project "This really marks the arrival of free WiFi in Greater London.

Millions of Londoners, as well as commuters, visitors and tourists can now expect to find free Wi-Fi as they work or play along the Thames." Of course, whilst free to those willing to tolerate less than blistering speeds and the occasional interruption of ads, this is a undeniably a commercial venture. In this respect it will be competing with The Cloud's offering which will cost 11.

99 a month after an initial free month but may well give surfers faster speeds. Broadband providers expressed some concern when Norwich's city-wide, council run WiFi service started that it might be detrimental to their business concerns; for this reason speeds had to be capped at 256kbps and sessions limited to an hour only.

Check out Techworld for more Wireless Network news and opinions.

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