London to set up Europe’s largest free Wi-Fi network for 2012 Olympics

Palace of Westminster by Trodel via FlickrJanuary 2012 marks the beginning of a massive free Wi-Fi rollout in London. Those that reside in or visit the boroughs of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea will soon be able to use their laptops and mobile devices to take part in what allegedly will become Europe’s largest free wireless hub.

In a press release, O2, the mobile operator in charge of installing the network, says that the deal struck with the Royal borough of Kensington & Chelsea along with Westminister City Council means million so residents and visitors will enjoy free Wi-Fi—supposedly at no cost to the councils or taxpayer. The free Wi-Fi plan is part of London’s way of rolling out the red carpet before the 2012 Olympic Games taking place later this year, along with the longterm goal of benefiting the surrounding businesses.

“Westminster welcomes over a million tourists a day, is home ot 250,000 residents, employs over half a million people and sees 4,000 business start-ups each year. Next summer’s Olympic games mean that London will be putting be putting on the biggest show on earth…visitors to London will easily be able to share their pictures and updates of the Olympic events across social networking sites,” said Councilor Philippa Roe, Cabinet Member for Strategic Finance at Westminster City Council.

O2 plans on setting up the Wi-Fi network this month all throughout Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea, but the WiFiwill initially be rolled out in patches before fully spreading throughout the boroughs. The Metro wireless network will be installed on “street furniture,” possibly meaning posts, benches; maybe even sculpted lions. O2’s masterplan, according to COO Derek MacManus was to expand the company’s “footprint,” and rollout free, open Wi-Fi all across the UK.