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First London, now Paris: Metro gets free WiFi

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London and Paris have had a competitive relationship for a little while now. So perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that just a few weeks after London announced the rollout of free wireless access on the Tube, the French have made a similar move.

News coming from Paris tells of a fresh initiative to bring free wireless access to public transport, bringing the city’s offering more in line with its cross-channel rival.

Thanks to WiFi provider GOWEX, a range of different public spaces across Paris will now have free wireless access — including railway stations, some RER commuter lines, and bus stops. It also includes three Metro stations: Place-d’Italie, Pont-de-Sèvres and Chaussée-d’Antin.

As Le Monde reports, it’s not perfect. But something, surely, is better than nothing:

The company claims that its service will eventually be deployed to other stations.

Access will only be possible in the stations themselves, not inside moving trains. Users wishing to use the free GOWEX service on their tablet or phone will have to install an application that states the rate will be 1Mbps.

There is already WiFi for some Metro travelers, thanks to an initiative from telco SFR that covers 50 stations. But that’s only for subscribers — not everyone. This move is much more like London, which is working with Virgin Media ahead of the Olympics to provide free access across some 80 underground stations.

And this is a trend that’s not just on one side of the Atlantic, either. On Tuesday Google (s GOOG) and Boingo teamed up to provide a similar service in six NYC stations in what’s being called “the summer of free Wi-Fi”. Some of the connectivity was already in place, but it’s an interesting move — although the implication of the marketing push is that when the summer comes to an end, so will the giveaway.

Image courtesy of Flickr User bredgur

6 Responses to “First London, now Paris: Metro gets free WiFi”

  1. On the other side of the earth, east Asian countries move even faster and in fact lead the trend. For example, a free public WiFi network, called Taipei Free, has been deployed in Taipei, Taiwan, for years. Citizens and international visitors can access and enjoy free WiFi at every Taipei Metro MRT station, public school/hospital/library, government office and branch, public park, and popular tourist spots. You can even access to Wifi on some city buses when they’re on the road. The connecting speed is not great but usable for checking email and browse the web. And it’s free anyway.