By Francesca James

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today called on London’s small and medium sized firms to take full advantage of the latest wireless technology to ensure the smooth running of their business during the 2012 Games.

The Mayor revealed plans by BT to ramp up its number of Wi-Fi hotspots in the capital to 500,000 in time for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He urged small businesses to act now and explore how the capital’s expanding Wi-Fi network could provide them with a low or no-cost way of working remotely, staying in touch with customers, suppliers and staff and accessing real time travel information.

The Mayor wants to see London’s Wi-Fi network vastly expanded as part of his plans for delivering a lasting communications legacy from the London Games. Working closely with all the major network providers, plans are already well underway to ensure London has some of the best and fastest Wi-Fi internet connections by next summer. Transport for London (TfL) is currently searching for a provider to supply Wi-Fi to 120 Underground stations helping Londoners and visitors stay informed while on the move and there are also plans to create a series of Wi-Fi hubs using bus stops near to and around tube stations.

Businesses in the capital will also be able to plan ahead for the 2012 Games by using a new website offering a one stop shop for Games-time transport information. Over the coming months the TfL site will provide clear, easy to access, detailed information about the Olympic Route Network (ORN) and other road restrictions on key dates in the London 2012 calendar such as the marathon dates and the road races as well as a new Freight Solutions Calendar so businesses can better plan their deliveries and despatch.

Nearer to Games it will provide the latest information on anticipated queuing times at Tube, DLR, London Overground and key National Rail stations as well as maps showing travel times between busy points in the city helping businesses plan journey times and anticipate delays.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:

“It is absolutely vital that London’s small and medium sized businesses, the backbone of the capital's economy, are fully prepared and ready to take advantage of every opportunity hosting the greatest show on earth brings. Having the latest transport information at their fingertips is a huge part of this as is boosting the capital’s Wi-Fi network allowing their employees to work virtually anywhere, stay in touch with clients and get the most up to date travel information.

"The 2012 Games will be the first truly digital Games and will mark a milestone towards my aim to make London the digital capital of Europe. So get online, stay in touch and make sure you’re not left standing on the starting blocks!

Speaking today at a conference to help small and medium business prepare for London 2012 the Mayor watched as new information showing how the busiest stations and locations across the Tube and road networks will be affected during the London 2012 Games was presented to businesses for the first time.

He was joined by Olympics Transport Minister Theresa Villiers who said;

“The Games will give this country a massive boost and deliver a legacy for London and the UK that will be felt for decades to come.

“But the Games will have an impact on getting around London and it's important that businesses start planning for this now — including how they make and receive deliveries during summer 2012 and how staff need to adapt their travel patterns.

“The Department for Transport is helping to lead the way as a London employer — we’re committed to reducing our travel footprint by 50 per cent at Games time.”

“With events like today’s, and TfL’s one-stop-shop, we can work together to minimise disruption and overcrowding on our transport network, and use the Olympics to show the world that London is a world class location for events.”

London’s Transport Commissioner, Peter Hendy, said:
“We’re working with London’s businesses to help them plan ahead, make the most of all the Games have to offer and help us keep London moving.

“One of the ways business can do this is to encourage their staff to work more flexibly and increased access to Wi-Fi could be a great benefit. At TfL, following a successful trial at Charing Cross Tube station, we’ve announced plans to introduce Wi Fi at up to 120 stations across the Tube network ahead of the London 2012 Games.”

BT’s Capital Wi-Fi programme to reach 500,000 hotspots kicks off next month with new hotspots broadcasting from more than 630 London payphones. Others will be added from homes and independent businesses across the city.

Chris Bruce, CEO, BT Openzone said: “BT is determined to be there for firms and their employees, wherever they decide to work during the Games. It’s our intention to support the buzz with a brilliant Capital Wi-Fi service.”

Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce said: "Public Wi-Fi is a crucial support for London's small businesses. The extra coverage announced today will be a positive growth enabler for these firms.'

To access the Transport for London transport information portal visit www.tfl.london.gov.uk/2012

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