1 August 2007: Leicester Square's free internet wi-fi hotspot reached a milestone this week when the amount of free connection time given away topped 7000 hours since December 2006. The free wi-fi hotspot, launched by Four Communications, was set up to draw attention to the complicated and expensive wi-fi internet connection prices charged across the capital by mainstream providers and as way of demonstrating the company's own Digital offering. The internet hotspot is free to use to anyone that visits the square, and locals, businesses and tourists alike have all taken advantage of the free service using the wireless connection. The 7,000 hours or 420,000 free minutes would have cost £31,500 had it been charged at pay-as-you-go rates charged elsewhere in the capital, and indeed the Square itself by other hotspot providers. February proved the single most popular month to-date with almost 3000 hours given away in that month alone. The connection covers almost the entire square and has been used by businesses around the area in an emergency when they've had problems with their own connection, by photographers covering premiers and needing to wire photos out and, of course, by tourists and visitors looking for somewhere to get a free internet connection to keep in touch with family and friends. Unlike other wireless connection hotspots, no product or service needs to be purchased or subscribed to. Users simply login using a splash page that then takes them to their chosen online destination. Phil Ryan, Head of Four's Digital practice devised the idea after having to pay expensive and inflexible wireless connection services himself. "The idea of setting up a free connection in somewhere such as Leicester Square was to stimulate the debate about charging models and get people asking the question 'should we be paying as much as we do for wireless connectivity?' Second, Leicester Square is a unique location within London and we wanted to demonstrate how it could be a place that anyone could come into to work or surf the internet for free, providing they had a wireless device such as a laptop or smart phone." Four Communications worked with Hotspot Solutions to set up the hotspot using their own offices that overlook the square and to make the connection from the wireless hotspot through to the physical leased line. Four is also about to begin talks with a number of businesses interested in using the portal provided by the free connection to offer users of the service location-based marketing messages and offers. For example, a restaurant in the area wanting to offer a specific deal for that day could use the portal page to advertise the offer to those using the hotspot connection. Phil Ryan added "Not only do we want to offer a free connection to the Internet, we think there is a strong case for building a community around the portal for local businesses to tap into. We can qualify the location of the people that use the hotspot and that puts us in a very strong position to market the space. However, what we won't do is interfere with the user experience once they navigate away from the initial splash page."
For more information, please contact:
Phil Ryan, Head of Digital
T: 44 (0)870 420 3257