Is Free Wi-Fi the Way of the Future for Smart Cities?

 

If the “city of tomorrow” always needs to be connected, one of the simplest solutions is to give citizens and travellers access to free Wi-Fi, especially in the most public places. Receiving over 36,000 million tourists last year alone, Paris has stepped up its game to give the people what they want, installing a system to allow free Wi-Fi on the Champs-Élysées. After almost a year in action, here’s how this unlimited high-speed network has impacted one of the city’s most visited boulevards and how other capitals across the continent can offer similar large-scale solutions.— Philippe Leonard


Connecting visitors to Paris and the world

The 1,9 km long boulevard, running from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, welcomes 100 million people each year, 36 million of which are tourists. To offer these travellers the means to connect while they’re abroad, outdoor advertising company JCDecaux partnered with the Champs-Elysées Committee to set up 70 different Wi-Fi access points in restaurants, boutiques and cafes along the avenue.

“JCDecaux already offers a free Wi-Fi network in Paris airports, bus shelters equipped with small cells in Amsterdam, and public Wi-Fi hotspots in Düsseldorf and Los Angeles,” explains Jean-Charles Decaux, Chairman of the Executive Board and Co-CEO of JCDecaux. “The deployment of free Wi-Fi on the Champs-Elysées strengthens our position as a leading partner in Smart City services sector.”

City-Wide Benefits

 Here are a few ways this smart solution is having big city benefits:

-Visitors can access a city guide with recommended restaurants and shops, as well as an interactive map, making a metropolis like Paris more accessible to tourists.

-Not only will the businesses along the avenue advertise the free Wi-Fi service in window signs, advertisers sponsoring the service, such as UnionPay International, will receive both homepage branding and banners on the Wi-Fi access interface.

-With each access point running at speeds of 30 to 120 megabytes per second, similar to that of a home Wi-Fi network, and at least 5,000 people connecting to a spot at once, a large number of visitors can easily browse the web and more.

By giving visitors this type of connectivity, Paris can promote events along and around the avenue, as well as track user data to gain insight on the interests of the people strolling through this area, helping to drive future development in the direction that makes the most sense economically for the city.