BT widens Wi-Fi experiment to a further six cities

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Laptop users in some of the UK's largest population centres will soon be able to connect to the internet while on the move after BT signed agreements to build wireless broadband networks in six cities.

BT is in talks with about 20 councils to extend the project to more areas. BT has invested in wireless networks in Cardiff and Westminster, and will install equipment in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds and Liverpool. Cities such as Nottingham, Bristol and Manchester are also likely to commission the build-out of such networks.

Devices will connect to BT's network using Wi-Fi technology which is used in some coffee shops and hotels. BT's investment will broaden the network to cover entire city centres. Consumers will be able to use the network to get real-time local information such as cinema screenings or tourist information. Others can use Wi-Fi to work while out of the office.

In Westminster, the council has used the Wi-Fi network to install more CCTV cameras. Parking inspectors have been equipped with handheld computers to log parking information when mobile.

At this stage, only laptops and a few mobile phone models can connect to Wi-Fi networks. But as more devices embed the technology, the range of uses will increase. In the future, parking meters could automatically connect to the network and issue a fine when appropriate. Video-game enthusiasts will be able to play against other users by connecting to the network, while satellite navigation devices could download real-time traffic information.