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BT Announces 'Wireless Cities' Initiative

U.K. telecom operator BT Wednesday said it has completed agreements with the first six municipalities that will participate in its "Wireless Cities" initiative and said it expected many more cities to join up soon.

The initiative aims to provide ubiquitous access to Wi-Fi and WiMAX data networks. BT said Thursday that the build-out of the wireless networks has either already started or will start soon in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Cardiff, and Westminster. It said that it is discussing the initiative with other cities and will announce those arrangements soon.

BT said it already has installed Wi-Fi hotspots in many locations in Cardiff and has launched a WiMAX network in Westminster, which it will soon start expanding. BT said it is working with Intel, which has championed both Wi-Fi and WiMAX, to implement the initiative.

"We are delighted to announce the first batch of many wireless agreements," Steve Andrews, BT’s chief of converged communications services, said in a statement. "We have been thrilled with the overwhelming response of local authorities and businesses wanting to be part of this wireless revolution. This first phase of 12 cities is just the start. We are already negotiating with many other cities."

Besides basic access, BT said it is working with cities to deliver a variety of applications ranging from providing tourist information to public safety applications. It also indicated the wireless cities initiative will expand on its Fusion initiative, which converges wireline and wireless voice-over-IP service.