BT has put in place agreements with six cities to become wireless pioneers as part of its plans to create a first phase of 12 Wireless Cities across the UK. People in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Cardiff and Westminster will benefit from huge wireless networks, giving them access to information and services. That could be anything from where to park to what’s on at the local cinema, as well as improved public services, like health monitoring, traffic monitoring and public safety.
Costs for the service will range from standard BT tariffs through to subsidised access rates from local information providers.
BT started the Wireless City rollout in Cardiff, where BT Openzone hotspots have been installed in many locations in the city centre. In Westminster, a dedicated high-bandwidth wireless network is already in place and is now being extended. The first six cities were chosen for their commitment to embracing the possibilities brought by the technology. BT aims to announce deals with many other cities.
n Westminster, where the project is now moving on to its second phase, the pilot results showed that after wireless technology enabled the council to expand the public safety network, residents on housing estates now feel safer walking in their area after dark.
The wireless cities network will bring together the very latest technologies and applications for use by public services, businesses and people. Chip manufacturer Intel has been working with BT to develop the technology, and is sharing its expertise of developing these services in cities like Philadelphia in the US and was one of the lead organisations involved in the Wireless Westminster project.
BT’s strategy is to work with Intel, other leading partners in wireless solutions and local authorities to roll out a wide area of wireless broadband in metropolitan areas. This will be based around wireless broadband in the home, BT Openzone Wi-Fi hotspots, Wireless Cities, and high speed mobile access. The result will be that customers can do anything, anytime, anywhere.
Leisure and business applications, many developed by councils with BT and partners, will be available to a wide range of devices, including the forthcoming Wi-Fi version of BT Fusion and a similar product currently being developed for corporate customers. These handsets will use the wireless broadband network to make calls over broadband at landline rates and provide a rich media experience, such as video calling and access to internet applications and services.
Steve Andrews, BT’s chief, Converged Communications Services, said: “We are delighted to announce the first batch of many wireless agreements. We have been thrilled with the overwhelming response of local authorities and businesses wanting to be part of this wireless revolution. This first phase of 12 cities is just the start. We are already negotiating with many other cities.
“Our networks will make sure customers are connected at all times, but all people will notice is how valuable the services are, such as knowing where to park, access to tourist information and public services.
“The Wireless City initiatives offer wide area wireless broadband access across metropolitan areas, enabling people to use the network on a range of devices for entertainment, education and communication, such as email, video and voice calls, even when they’re on the move.
“BT is at the forefront of deploying wireless broadband today to realise customer benefits, and researching and testing evolving technologies, such as WiMax.
“This is the first key step towards a future of rich, high speed services enabled by new technology.”