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London Underground stations get free WiFi - for now

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Ahead of the Olympics, free WiFi is being rolled out at a number of London Underground stations.

Virgin Media, who has managed to gain the monopoly on providing WiFi services on the London Underground, has begun rolling out the scheme to the first set of stations.

Oxford Circus, Leicester Square, Liverpool Street, King's Cross and Stratford are among the first to trial-run the WiFi connection, and Virgin hopes to have connected 82 by the end of July. The remaining 38 are earmarked for the end of 2012.

In homage to the Olympic games, Internet access will be available at ticket offices, on the escalator or on the platform whilst waiting -- especially useful if you happen to be caught on a delayed line.

The contract was won by Virgin in March. While the Olympic games are being hosted in London, the service will be offered for free -- and then once the tourists have scooted off home, locals (if successful, probably used to having the service) can decide to keep using the WiFi as a pay-as-you-go service.

London Underground’s director Gareth Powell said:

"Our customers will soon be able to connect to the internet for live travel information while they are on the move through stations.
Bringing a next generation Wi-Fi service to one of the world's oldest underground transport networks is progressing as planned and the forthcoming service is testing well.

The first stations include some of our busiest and most well-known destinations and we're on-track for a successful launch this summer – all delivered at no additional cost to fare payers or taxpayers."

None of the service charges are currently known. However, it has been reported that for travel information only, the service will remain free -- which may point to a particular website redirection or app download in the future.


Image credit: Annie Mole

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure