Nokia launches free Wi-Fi service

Troubled Finnish phone maker Nokia has entered into a deal with communications giant Spectrum Interactive to offer free Wi-Fi connectivity to all, via the latter's network of payphones.

Initially, the network will be restricted to 26 sites around central London, with access open to all and for free at speeds of 1Mb/s downstream and 500Kb/s upstream. To help Nokia users find the hotspots, the company is adding their locations to Nokia Maps.

The access is free from today up until the end of the year, after which the companies will investigate the possibility of keeping the access points open. Users will be asked to agree to a set of terms and conditions before access is granted.

According to Electricpig, which was present at the announcement, the move comes as an early test of a planned nationwide free Wi-Fi network powered by Spectrum Interactive and other companies' street furniture.

"It’s something we want to see, how will this be taken up, how will it be used," a Nokia spokesperson told the site. "We'll look at how we can take those opportunities to other cities in the world. It's really looking at how we bring all that together."

Nokia isn't the only mobile company looking at expanding Wi-Fi access for its customers: Vodafone already offers access to BT Openzone hotspots on many of its contracts, and O2 announced plans at the start of the year to deploy a nationwide free Wi-Fi platform - which, sadly, has yet to emerge in the form originally promised.