London’s iconic black cabs set to become free Wi-Fi hotspots

 Jump into one of London’s iconic black cabs from early next year and the chances are you’ll be able to fire up your mobile device and hook up to its free Wi-Fi service.

London-based tech start-up Eyetease has just been given the green light by Transport for London to launch the service. The company said it’s been working on the project for two years and plans to have it up and running in the coming months once various sponsorship deals have been finalized.

The free service, called CabWiFi, will be supported by an ‘ads-for-access’ model where users will have to watch (or you could just look out the window) a 15-second ad in exchange for 15 minutes of free Internet access. Sounds straightforward enough, right?

“Tourists and business travellers can now access their emails, talk on Skype or surf the web without the fear of being hit with high data roaming charges when they return home,” Eyetease founder and CEO Richard Corbett said in a statement announcing the news.

Cab drivers will also be able to make use of the service, enabling them to “off-set the high cost of data charges incurred from using taxi apps, which some drivers claim have doubled their phone bills in recent months,” Eyetease said.

The start-up is reportedly already in advanced talks with several major consumer brands – including a global credit card company and a leading mobile phone manufacturer – to sponsor the rollout of the free service.

Londoners have already been enjoying free subway-based Wi-Fi for a while now, after stations on its sprawling network introduced the service in time for the visiting masses that descended on the UK capital for the Olympics in the summer.

This week the supplier of the service, Virgin Media, announced it had just increased its reach by 20 stations, bringing the total number of web-connected stations to 92. While not available on the trains themselves, passengers can connect in ticket halls, walkways and platforms.

Virgin Media’s service will be free to all users until the end of January 2013, after which customers with providers other than Virgin Media, EE and Vodafone will be required to pay a fee.

[Image: Rob Wilson / Shutterstock]

Get our Top Stories delivered to your inbox: