Nokia is celebrating the launch of the new Nokia Lumia 800 with free Wi-Fi in London. Anyone wandering the West End can fire up their smart phone and access the Internet without paying a penny.
You don't need to register to use the service and you don't even need a Nokia phone -- simply connect to the Wi-Fi network, accept the terms and conditions and start browsing the Web for nearby restaurants or West End shows, firing off emails or using Web-connected apps, and all without eating into your 3G data allowances or racking up charges.
Nokia promises speeds of up to 20Mbps via kit installed in street-side phone boxes -- the black and yellow ones owned by Spectrum Interactive, which provides Wi-Fi to places like hotels and airports.
It's good to see phone companies firing up Wi-Fi, which should ease the burden of data-ravenous smart phones on 3G networks. Unlike the US, we're a long way from upgrading our phone networks to the next generation of phone signal, known as 4G, which can handle much more data traffic. Trials are currently being run, but legal shenanigans are holding things up.
We'll be positively microwaved by Wi-Fi waves at this rate: O2 offers free Wi-Fi to all and sundry, even if you're not an O2 customer. Virgin Media offers the same on London buses, and London Underground will have Wi-Fi in half of Tube stations by 2012. Hard luck if you're not a cockney doin' the Lambeth Walk up the apples and pears, as so many schemes are focused on the Big Smoke.
Nokia free Wi-Fi is available now on Oxford Street, Tottenham Court Road, Bloomsbury, South Kensington, Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Lancaster Gate, Bayswater, Westminster, Sloane Square, Victoria and Marylebone.
The trial will assess the demand for free Wi-Fi access and see how people use the service, to determine the best locations for future hotspots and the necessary bandwidth to meet demand. Nokia and Spectrum plan to offer free Wi-Fi across London from early next year.
Do you take advantage of free Wi-Fi when you're out and about, or is it never as good as it's cracked up to be? Tell us your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page -- and tell us the most exotic location you've ever read CNET UK!