London's iconic black cabs will become free WiFi access points next year, Picture: AFP
The city's iconic black cabs are set to become access points for free WiFi as startup Eyetease implements its internet program.
Eyetease has received approval from Transport for London, the body responsible for regulation of the taxis, to roll out its high-speed service early next year. The London-based startup has been working on the bid for over two years.
The service, called CabWiFi, will be launched using an "ads-for-access" model which requires users to watch a 15-second advert to gain 15 minutes of WiFi access.
According to the company, passengers have a "dwell time" of about 15 minutes in the back of a taxi that can be used to browse the web from their smartphones, tablets or laptops.
EyeTease's system uses 3G and 4G data connectivity within London which is converted into WiFi through a portable hotspot in the taxi.
To encourage drivers to offer the system, CabWiFi provides taxi drivers with a login so that they can also access the internet free of charge.
The service is especially good news for foreigners visiting London for business or leisure as they will no longer need to rake up roaming fees when accessing online content.
Visitors to London already have access to free WiFi on the platforms and escalators of some Underground stations, provided by Virgin Media, since the Olympics took place this summer. This week the service is to be rolled out at 20 more London stations including Camden Town, Notting Hill and South Kensington.
Up to now the Virgin service has been completely free, but the scheme is set to change in 2013. Customers with EE, Vodafone and Virgin Media operators will continue to receive the service free of charge, but others can expect to pay rates of £2 a day, £5 a week and £15 per month for the service. -Relaxnews