With London's biggest spectacle starting in a matter of hours, we can only imagine the chaos. And we aren't just talking about public transit. We're talking about clogged networks, overloaded cell towers and slammed internet pipes. Of course, a period of challenge also presents a great deal of opportunity. Network carrier O2 has announced that starting this week, tourists and locals alike in the London area will be able to hop on some newly installed Wi-Fi waves just for the games. Areas like Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Exhibition Road are amongst the seven squares and shopping streets benefiting from the deal between Westminster City Council, the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and communications provider O2.
The deal won't cost the council or taxpayers a dime, but it'll provide free Wi-Fi hotspots that are sorely needed. The 3G networks are sure to be overloaded; tossing free Wi-Fi around is certainly a great idea to relieve some of that strain (and give an option to tourists who can't afford to roam). The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "With millions of extra people coming to town for the Games, we want to ensure we showcase the capital as the best city in the world to work and visit, and the addition of free Wifi to some of our most popular landmarks is crucial in helping to maintaining that reputation."
The real question is this: will the gratis Wi-Fi spread even after the world's eye leaves London? Will other major cities take notice, and invest in free Wi-Fi without hosting a swimming championship or the like? We'd love to see it, particularly in public transit areas and airports.