You are here > Home > News
Public Wi-Fi bringing the UK online
IT News |
With the internet now playing a central role in people's work, home and family lives, having easy access to the web is becoming increasingly important. The advent of wireless broadband services has made a big difference in this respect, since consumers no longer need a cable connection to their router to get online. Equipped with Wi-Fi connections, consumers can log on to the internet on any web-enabled device in the home. Whether they are using a laptop in the kitchen, a media tablet in the dining room or a smartphone in their bedroom, they can reap the benefits of a strong and reliable internet connection.
The same goes for people on the move. With businesses recognising the potential of mobile technology, and the popularity of handheld devices, many are providing Wi-Fi access to their customers. Pubs, restaurants, high street stores and coffee houses are among those providing free wireless broadband access to their customers, in a bid to attract more people in and build loyalty rates. They can use the internet to deliver tailored marketing materials and special offers to customers logging on via their handsets. Or they can simply broaden their appeal by providing free access to the internet, allowing visitors to check their emails, update their social media accounts or browse the web.
UK the leader in Wi-Fi coverage
With the likes of BT and Sky increasingly active, the number of public wireless hotspots is rising at a rapid rate in the UK. So much so that a recent report identified Britain as the global leader in wireless broadband, some accolade for a nation which has often lagged behind on internet speeds and coverage. Informa Telecoms & Media (ICM) explained there are already 18 million Wi-Fi hotspots across Britain, and this is set to increase to 21 million by 2015. The firm expects there to be 652 million hotspots worldwide within four years as more consumers and businesses recognise the value of Wi-Fi connectivity.
Based upon the findings of the ICM study, UK consumers genuinely value Wi-Fi access. Some 21 per cent of people would visit a place again if it had Wi-Fi and 17 per cent would choose a place with wireless broadband over one without. Another 13 per cent said they would recommend a place to a friend if it offers Wi-Fi access, meaning the facility should help businesses attract new customers. The inference is that by failing to offer in-store or in-house internet access, businesses may inadvertently push customers into the hands of their competitors. And in a difficult economic climate, this is the last thing they want to be doing.
Wi-Fi: A social phenomenon
Thomas Wehmeier, principal analyst at ICM, said that when Wi-Fi services were launched ten years ago, nobody could have imagined "just how central to everyday life the technology would eventually become". "For today’s connected consumer, Wi-Fi is an essential way to connect and communicate via an increasing number of smart devices," he stated. He noted that wireless broadband services have become crucial to smartphone and media tablet users, and will be available on almost every consumer electronic device in the future.
According to Lyssa McGowan, director of communications Products at broadband provider Sky, Wi-Fi has quickly become "part and parcel of everyday life". "More and more of us want to get online outside the home and do it with the speed and convenience that only Wi-Fi brings - whether it’s a video with your cappuccino, catching up on emails while waiting for your train, or keeping yourself occupied while being dragged round the shops with your partner," she stated. People are increasingly using the internet to organise their social lives, and want access to the web wherever they are.
A role for Wi-Fi at the Olympics
With the London Olympics fast-approaching, Wi-Fi services are set to play an important role in keeping visitors to the city connected and up to date with all the latest developments. This will be important from a logistical point of view given the strain set to be put on the city's public transport networks.
The launch of Wi-Fi on the London Underground is a particularly important development. While such a service has been mooted for some time, concerns over cost and technical capabilities stood in the way of progress. But after coming to an agreement with Transport for London, Virgin Media is rolling out Wi-Fi across 80 Tube stations in time for the Games.
With millions of tourists set to flock to London, waiting times on the bus and Tube lines are set to increase, but access to Wi-Fi will help travellers avoid bottle necks and get to their destinations on-time. Mobile device users will also be able to keep tabs on all the ongoing Olympics action, and receive alerts when British athletes secure medals at the Games.
In time, Wi-Fi could even become available on Tube services themselves, allowing commuters to work on their mobile devices heading into or out of the city. There are already 2,000 Wi-Fi enabled train carriages on the National Rail network, with operators such as East Midlands Trains making broadband available to passengers. And with technological innovation continuing, it may not be long until Tube carriages are able to offer the same facility.
Posted by Jon Aspinell
IT Recruitment Agency - 12.5% Fee / 3 Month, 100% Rebate - Transparent Recruitment Fees Since 1999.
Sign up to our e-newsletter service to receive our headline news directly to your inbox