By Daniel Hunter
The Mayor of London confirmed that Londoners will be able to use Wi-Fi to access mobile internet services at Tube stations for the first time from June.
A contract has been awarded to Virgin Media to provide public access Wi-Fi at up to 120 Tube station platforms at zero cost to the fare or taxpayer.
The news comes as the leading provider of enterprise social networks Yammer Inc confirmed that they are to open their first developer centre outside the US, in Shoreditch and have plans to increase their workforce in London to over 130 people across all divisions.
The new Wi-Fi service will launch as a free, unlimited service for all Tube passengers this summer and will continue to offer free live TfL travel information via a new online portal after this period.
Virgin Media, in partnership with London Underground, will initially introduce Wi-Fi at over 80 stations. By the end of 2012, up to 120 Tube stations, many of them deep-level, will be connected.
From June 2012, all Tube passengers will be able to connect to the internet at stations for free, enabling millions of commuters and visitors to access websites and online destinations and stay up-to-date with news and events listings, review the best spots for lunch and discover great London attractions from their mobile phones, tablets, laptops and other connected devices.
Following this period, Wi-Fi at Tube stations will be made available as part of Virgin Media’s broadband and mobile subscriptions and all Tube passengers will be able to stay up-to-date with travel information thanks to the free online portal. Full Internet access via Wi-Fi will become available via Pay-As-You-Go and other commercial models.
London's digital and hi-tech sector is expected to account for a third of capital’s growth over the next two decades with London already home to more ICT and software companies than any other European city. The Mayor today welcomed the announcement by US-based Yammer Inc, provider of enterprise social networks, that it has chosen London over New York as the location for its first developer centre outside the States, reflecting the fact that almost 40 per cent of their global user-base is in Europe.
The capital's fledgling digital firms also got a boost today, with the announcement that White Horse Capital has secured backing for a £35m Accelerator Fund help digital start-ups in London over the next five years. This money will support the work already going on at their Accelerator Academy, supported by the Mayor, to train, mentor and provide investment for innovative start-ups and early stage tech firms.
“It's vital that we harness the massive opportunities stemming from the digital revolution, by creating a vibrant, world class industry to attract investment and create jobs for Londoners," Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said.
"Millions of passengers will now be able to connect to their work, friends or access the latest news and travel information whilst on the move. This is a fabulous new and free resource which will be in place from this summer when London is being showcased on a global stage and playing host to millions.”
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