Chesham gets UK's first 'Smart Pavement'
October 19, 2015 | 14:06
Communications and broadcast giant Virgin Media has announced the launch of what it calls the UK's first 'Smart Pavement,' in a trial conducted in partnership with Chiltern District Council.
City councils signing up with media companies to provide residents and visitors with Wi-Fi connectivity is nothing new, of course: numerous cities have been blanketed with broadband using everything from dedicated street furniture to piggybacking on what few payphones still remain in the average city centre. Virgin Media's most recent trial, however, is a little different: it's located directly underfoot, as part of what the company calls a 'Smart Pavement.'
The 'Smart Pavement,' the company explains, takes the form of a single access point submerged beneath the pavement under a specially-designed cast-resin rain cover. The limited coverage from the 'Smart Pavement' is, unsurprisingly, bolstered with access points located in the company's existing aboveground cabinets. The company has confirmed that the trial, in Chesham town centre, provides access to the internet at speeds up to 166Mb/s, with the service accessible at distances of up to 80 metres from the nearest access point.
'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,' boasted Councillor Fred Wilson, cabinet member for customer services, of the partnership. 'Efficient connectivity is pivotal to running businesses today and I am proud we are part of a project which is crossing new boundaries.'
'Not only is this the first time we've built metropolitan WiFi directly from our street cabinets, it is also the UK’s first deployment of a Wi-Fi connected pavement. It is literally public Wi-Fi under your feet,' crowed Virgin's Gregor McNeil, managing director of consumer products, of the launch. 'We want to build more networks like this across the UK and encourage more forward thinking councils just like Chesham to get in touch.'