In the sleepy British town of Chesham, the sidewalks are a little bit special. The very ground on which people walk is now providing respectably fast wifi to residents as they wander around the streets.
Developed by the UK’s Virgin Media, a series of submerged access points have been installed around the centre of the town and the nearby 36-acre Lowndes Park. They all link to the provider’s street cabinets, which are connected to the local fiber network. The wifi provides download speeds of up to 166Mbit/s, and is open to anyone who wanders along the street.
It’s not the first attempt to cover city streets with wifi: in New York, old pay phones are being repurposed as wifi hubs, a scheme that Google is keen to roll out elsewhere. It is, though, the first time that we’re aware of where the infrastructure has been placed beneath the feet of pedestrians at any scale, making the whole thing feel even more invisible.
Virgin Media plans to roll the scheme out in other locations around the UK. Hopefully such a scheme hits the U.S. at some point, too.
Top image by Will Fuller under Creative Commons license. Body image by Virgin Media.