Thames becomes giant Wi-Fi hot spot

Service enables users to roam anywhere along a 22-kilometer stretch of the river without interruption to their Internet connection.

The River Thames in London has been turned into a giant Wi-Fi hot spot that can be used by anyone with a wireless device on the river or along its banks.

The wireless broadband Internet access stretches for 22 kilometers along the Thames, from the Millennium Dome out in Greenwich up to Millbank by the Houses of Parliament, and it will be extended further over the next two months.

The Thames Online service uses mesh networking technology across 100 access points, allowing users to roam along that stretch of the river without any interruption to their Internet connection--effectively creating one big hot spot.

The public network is available to anyone with a wireless-enabled device and costs $5.79 (2.95 pounds) for one hour or $11.68 for a day of pay-as-you-go Internet access. A monthly subscription rate of $19.53 is also available.

The network has a voice channel, and is also being used for the GPS tracking of river traffic and wireless closed-circuit TV surveillance.

The main technology behind Thames Online comes from two of Global Reach Group's subsidiary companies, codeCreation and Meshopper WiFi Networks. The network access points were supplied by Proxim Wireless.

In addition to passing trade from tourists and other roaming users, Nigel Wesley, CEO of Global Reach Group, said the main source of revenue would come from subscriptions from businesses, local government and emergency services.

"Making a living out of public Wi-Fi hot spots is almost impossible at the moment," Wesley said. "We are layering on multiple services. We are not just competing with other hot-spot providers."

Andy McCue of Silicon.com reported from London.

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