I’m walking on Wi-Fi: UK’s first smart pavement opens

15 Oct 2015

The town of Chesham in the UK has become the first town in the country to get a smart pavement that beams high-speed Wi-Fi from beneath the feet of shoppers.

The smart pavement was developed with the help of Virgin Media, which laid a series of submerged access points that are connected to the company’s wider fibre-optic network.

According to Virgin Media’s information on the project, people walking on the path can receive download speeds as high as 166Mbps, which the company says is seven times the speed of the average UK broadband user.

To keep them from being affected by adverse weather or deterioration, the rainproof access points use a mixture of the latest fibre-optic cabling and DOCSIS 3 technology.

In explaining why the town was chosen as the site of its first smart pavement, Virgin Media said the town is demographically representative of the UK population as a whole and is of a size that allows a quick deployment of services across the whole town, rather than specific locations.

smart pavement councillor

Cllr Fred Wilson, Chiltern District Council. Image via Virgin Media

In order to reach the top download speeds, however, a user must be at least 80m away from one of the company’s street cabinets that connect it to the fibre-optic network.

The Rt Hon Cheryl Gillan MP for the area said of its opening: “The internet is at the heart of modern life and it is brilliant to have such a cutting-edge network in Chesham and to be right at the vanguard of connectivity in the UK.

“It will keep the community connected, help Chesham people save some money on their mobile bill and could be a key piece of the jigsaw in connected cities moving forward.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic