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« The Cloud Goes Ultracheap with Unlimited Access | Main | Bologna Adds Free Wi-Fi »

May 17, 2006

BT Will Cover 12 Cities with Wi-Fi

By Glenn Fleishman

BT will compete with The Cloud on unwiring UK cities: The telecoms giant said that they will be working with Intel to unwire 12 cities, starting with Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, and Westminster; six others haven’t yet been named. The company says they will work closely with local councils to focus initial rollouts on areas the cities deem important, such as deprived areas. Other cities may want handheld video for municipal workers. The first phase will be up and running by Feb 2007.

With BT’s emerging UMA focus—that’s unlicensed mobile access, or a seamless merge of Wi-Fi networks and cell networks for phone calls—offering more Wi-Fi over large areas offers them more opportunity to serve more calls at lower cost, and possibly with higher quality. Cell service, UMA, and metro-scale Wi-Fi all go hand in hand. BT currently offers a limited cell plus Bluetooth service, but will add Wi-Fi to some cell phones and plans in third quarter.

BT’s group director of mobility is quoted in this story about the interest by smaller towns. They were “inundated” with requests and will be “happy to work in partnership with them.” Some cities may co-invest with BT on providing service.

The Cloud, a hotspot network, announced plans in January to cover nine city centres with Wi-Fi, including the City of London, Manchester, and Birmingham. Birmingham has scored two goals here: they’ll have local Wi-Fi competition.

In Edinburgh, there’s particular interest because it would be the first city in Scotland to have city-wide coverage.

Posted by Glennf at May 17, 2006 8:15 PM

Categories: municipal networks

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