Although rural areas are gradually getting access to 3G and 4G services, coverage outside of cities and large townships still isn’t great. One solution that Virgin is trying out in the small market-town of Chesham, Buckinghamshire, is what it’s calling “smart pavements.” It involves the creation of public Wi-Fi stations underneath the streets of the town, making it possible to be connected to high-speed wireless internet whilst out and about, without the need to pay for data.
There is no special registration that needs to be made. You don’t need to be a resident, or a member of the town council, simply connect like you would to any public Wi-Fi source and you’ll stay connected as long as you’re near one of Chesham’s streets. Speeds of up to 166Mbps can be reached – though unlikely at peak times – which should be more than enough for most people’s uses.
Residents are already reporting high connection speeds, giving them the ability in some cases to stream on-demand services like Netflix while waiting at the bus stop.
“I am delighted that we’ve been able to bring a UK first to Chesham with Virgin Media’s ultrafast WiFi, helping local people and businesses get online,” said Fred Wilson, Chesham’s town councillor. “Efficient connectivity is pivotal to running businesses today and I am proud we are part of a project which is crossing new boundaries.”
The technology making this all possible is wireless transmission points located under rain-proof resin manhole covers. They have a wide range too, with some reports of consumers still connecting to the service when as much as 80 metres away.
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KitGuru Says: This would be really handy in my local town. The 3G reception here is almost non-existent and we only just got basic fibre, so Wi-Fi speeds like this while out and about would be most welcome.