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British communications company O2 has signed a deal with Cisco to be its key provider for the technology in O2's public Wi-Fi network. Access to O2 Wifi will be free for all UK customers, regardless of which provider they use. Rollout of the network has already begun and eventually O2 Wifi will cover 15,000 UK locations over the next two years. Under the partnership, O2 Wifi will be available free of charge to customers on any mobile network. By implementing its own Wi-Fi network rather than paying for access to an existing network, O2 will be able to ensure the end-user has a high-quality experience. 


O2 Wifi hotspot locations will be equipped with Cisco Aironet 3500 series access points. The networking giant will also provide the modular gateway router through the its 887 integrated services router. O2 Wifi will be controlled and managed using the Cisco Wireless LAN Controller. The modular system can be scaled to monitor and manage a high volume of wireless access points, ensuring a high level of performance and security and providing O2 with the ability to quickly and centrally identify and address any drop in service levels within hotspot locations.

Edwin Paalvast, senior vice president, service provider, EMEAR, Cisco, says "As the use of smartphones, tablet computers and other connected devices continues to rise, the consumer demand for fast, efficient and highly secure mobile data access is growing incredibly rapidly. By implementing a carrier-grade next-generation Wi-Fi infrastructure to support the next generation of Wi-Fi mobile devices, O2 is leading a significant shift in the way that Wi-Fi is delivered and consumed."

Gavin Franks, managing director, O2 Wifi, says Wifi hotspots will bring high quality public wireless Internet access to the majority of mobile users. “When we decided to roll out a wifi network on this scale, we worked hard to ensure the network would have the right balance of control, scalability, durability and of course speed.  Cisco's networking technologies and expertise will help us achieve this balance," says Franks


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