Wi-Fi on the Thames

Wi-Fi on the Thames

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Written By Eric Sandler

By Eric Griffith

March 30, 2007

The River Thames’ lower reaches in central London are now home to a Wi-Fi hotzone. Service stretches 22 kilometers (about 12.5 miles) along the banks, from Millbank near the Houses of Parliament in the west to the Millennium Dome in Greenwich to the southeast.

The network, called Thames Online, is provided by the local Global Reach Group using equipment from Proxim Wireless — specifically, the company’s ORiNOCO AP-4000MR mesh access points — about 100 were installed. One AP is right near the famed Cutty Sark in Greenwich, and will be used for a webcam to show the restoration process on the landmark in real time. There’s a chance Global Reach will also support CCTV video surveillance cams using the AP, to be used by the constabulary. It is likewise used for GPS traffic on the river, and will have a channel set aside for VoIP traffic.

The 802.11b/g network is open to anyone with a Wi-Fi device, but it isn’t free — it’s £2.95 (about $5.79US) for one hour, £5.95 for a day, £7.95 for a week, or £9.95 for a month of unlimited service (if it falls within their usage policy). Local businesses and government will also use it, and are likely to be the river network’s main revenue stream (no pun intended).

Proxim’s Mesh Creation Protocol (OMCP) tech is not alone on the network — Global Reach subsidiaries codeCreation and MeshHopper WiFi Networks are also involved. The company is also building a hotspot for the Manchester city center.

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