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The Cloud aims for full coverage of London

24 мая 2010

The Cloud, Europe’s largest wireless broadband network, is evaluating how to build a London-wide WiFi network in time for the Olympic Games after Boris Johnson, the capital’s mayor, asked it to draw up a blueprint.

The group, together with the heads of UK mobile operators such as Vodafone, O2 and Virgin Mobile, meet Mr Johnson and the 2012 Olympic organisers once a quarter to consider how the industry can respond to the expected surge in mobile internet during the Games.

Last week the mayor told a Google conference that London would get blanket WiFi coverage by the time of the 2012 Olympics.

Steve Nicholson, chief executive, told the FT that at the last meeting Mr Johnson asked whether The Cloud’s network could be extended to the main Olympic village in Stratford.

“It’s getting through that the only way to [enable] large-scale data downloading with credibility is with WiFi,” said Mr Nicholson.

A decision could come as early as September, which would then mean the company has to roll out its network in 2011. The scale of the project would also mean The Cloud requiring further funding, Mr Nicholson said.

The Cloud already runs a network in the City of London supporting O2’s network and has seen demand rise dramatically as smartphones encourage data download.

Apple’s iPhone, for example, looks for a WiFi signal first and falls back to a third-generation signal if it cannot find it.

Results from the group showed revenue for the year to December 31 rose from £15.9m ($22.9m) to £17.6m.

A focus on cash preservation at the expense of investment last year meant pre-tax losses narrowed from £4.6m to £3.3m.

Since 2003 The Cloud has been building a series of localised WiFi networks around Europe, installing wireless internet access in public spaces such as shops, pubs, hotels and local authority offices.

It now has more than 12,000 contracted international network locations and more than 20,000 WiFi network access points in 11 European countries.

The UK-based group is backed by a series of private equity firms, including Ferd Venture, the Norwegian investor, Encore Ventures, Accel and Provider Venture Partners, the Swedish fund.

Источник: Financial Times

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