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Smart pavement for superfast wifi

glassy wifi symbolThe good burghers of the Buckinghamshire market town of Chesham have good reason to rejoice, not just for living in the beautiful Chiltern Hills, but because they have the first smart pavement (highway engineers would call it a ‘footway’. Ed.) that provides superfast wifi to passers-by.

Engineering and Technology Magazine reports that the wifi pavement, which has been developed by Virgin Media, provides connectivity via submerged access points linked directly to Virgin’s street cabinets that are connected to the fibre-optic network.

Download speeds can reach 166 Mbit/s – quite a bit faster than BT’s alleged “superfast” broadband offering – meaning a half-hour TV programme with a file size of some 640 MB can be downloaded in under 40 seconds. Furthermore, peak download speeds can be achieved up to 80 metres away from Virgin’s street cabinets.

Virgin Media chose Chesham to pilot the technology as the town is representative of UK population and at some 21,000 residents about the right size to allow quick deployment of services across the whole town.

At present the ultrafast wifi covers Chesham’s High Street and parts of the nearby 36-acre Lowndes Park.

Virgin Media mobile customers with Android devices will be able to access it through the company’s Wi-Fi Buddy app.

Virgin commented that data usage on its network is increasing by 60% every year and expects to see a 10,000% increase by 2025.

Virgin Media is currently investing £3 bn. in developing a new network that will provide ultrafast broadband speeds to four million more customers across the UK.