03 August 2017
O2 has built what it claims as the first free Wi-Fi network on a continually moving structure.
The new service is available on Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel, the 135 metre Coca-Cola London Eye on the South Bank of the River Thames.
The network covers all 32 passenger capsules on the London Eye. It has been designed to beam Wi-Fi coverage between 16 fixed access points (APs) on the wheel’s structure without using fixed cables or satellite technology.
The APs are connected via Ethernet to 28GHz microwave receivers installed on the London Eye’s outer rims. One access point is used for two capsules. The receivers pick up their signals from microwave nodes and transmitters fixed to the structure’s pontoon and monopoles. O2 says the installation extends its ‘High Density’ Wi-Fi network already installed in ground level areas.
The new service is available to all members of public regardless of their network provider. Visitors simply need to register using their mobile number while O2 customers connect automatically.
“We knew that the ability to deliver a continual Wi-Fi service would be technically challenging," says Sunny Jouhal, general manager of the Coca-Cola London Eye. "O2 has delivered us an exceptional solution.”
The service is being made permanent following successful trials.
According to analysis carried out behalf of Merlin Entertainments which owns the London Eye, tourists have so far accounted for around 20 per cent of those using Wi-Fi on the wheel. Of these, Americans comprised the biggest group (16 per cent), followed by Germans (eight per cent) and Italians (seven per cent).