Nokia is currently staging a highly publicised comeback tour with its forthcoming Windows Phone based Lumia smartphones. To bolster its profile further, the Finnish manufacturer is also sponsoring a free wi-fi service, starting in selected locations in London.
If the pilot goes well, the service will extend to the rest of the city in 2012, and then the whole of the UK and abroad.
Starting with 26 wi-fi-enabled phone kiosks dotted around central and north London, anyone can hook up to the Nokia Free WiFi hotspot, regardless of the make and model of phone or tablet (as long as it has wi-fi, naturally).
You only need to read and accept the terms and conditions once to then have a connection capped at 1 megabit down, and 0.5 megabit up.
With this speed restriction, Nokia isn't intending to give you the ability to stream music or video, or to play games through OnLive, but the connection should still be fine for anyone after a stable connection that saves you using your mobile data allowance.
Spectrum Interactive, the company providing the service Nokia is sponsoring, believes that tourists could benefit most by avoiding hefty roaming fees.
John Nichols, head of marketing at Nokia, said: “From tourists finding their way around the capital, to commuters updating Facebook or browsing on the move, we all depend on mobile to share our everyday experiences and enhance our lives. Nokia is pleased to sponsor this pilot which we hope will connect people even more easily than ever before.”
We were given the chance to test the service out on Oxford Street, but connecting to the 'Free Nokia WiFi' hotspot turned into a bit of a nightmare. This probably wasn't helped by the poor phone kiosk being surrounded by a huge number of tech journalists all trying to connect simultaneously.
You can use the web-based Nokia Maps service to find your nearest phone box. The trial continues until December 31st 2011.