Where to find free wifi at the London Olympics
WIFI NETWORKS MAY NOT BE the open, anonymous free-for-alls of a few years ago, but London is still full of venues, restaurants, and retail outlets with free access. Wherever you’re watching the games, you can find wifi nearby or on the way.
- BT wifi hotspots: BT hotspots are provided throughout London via partnership with British Telecommunications, one of the UK’s largest telecom providers. Their public wifi hotspots are offered free of charge to customers of their broadband service and to customers of mobile carriers who’ve made agreements with BT. To visitors from outside the UK seeking free wireless, these hotspots are virtually useless. You’d need to purchase pre-paid vouchers to access the Internet.
- The Cloud wifi: Many London businesses offer free wifi in partnership with The Cloud. It’s entirely free of charge, but may require you to create a free account and register your email and/or mobile phone number.
The Olympic Park in East London covers over 2.5 square km of grounds and houses the Olympic Stadium, the Velodrome, the basketball arena, the BMX track, the Copper Box, and the Aquatics Centre, as well as many of the non-competitive venues. The park will be served by over 1,000 newly installed BT wifi hotspots — the largest high-density wifi network ever deployed, according to BT.
While options within the park may be restricted to BT, The Counter cafe on Ranch Road offers free wifi and views of the Olympic Stadium from the other side of the park, nearest to the Eton Manor Gate entrance.
Free wifi can also be accessed near the Stratford Gate entrance to the park at both Stratford Underground station and the Westfield Stratford City shopping complex. The Stratford Underground recently came online, along with several other stations, as a result of a partnership between Virgin Media and Transport for London. The service will be free to everyone until the end of the Olympic Games.
Westfield Stratford City wifi is via The Cloud, so be prepared to spend a few minutes creating an account and registering your device by following the onscreen prompts. The shopping complex is huge and offers wifi throughout its multiple stories, wings, and courtyards, making it a convenient location to get online and take care of tasks more time consuming than checking emails.
Greenwich Park, which will host the Equestrian competition and the Modern Pentathlon, has BT wifi access throughout and is surrounded by free access points in the borough of Greenwich.
The National Maritime Museum at the north end of the park has free wifi in the exhibition areas and in its cafe. Admission to the museum is free. Phillies on Greenwich Church Street and Bar Du Musee on Nelson Road are a short walk from the National Maritime Museum and also have free access.
Also on this block is the Greenwich Free Wifi network, which provides free and open Internet access on the street level. It appears to be available from the corner of Nelson Road and King William Walk, through to Greenwich Church Street, all the way to the Crescent Arcade outside Cutty Sark station on the Dockland Light Railway. (Note: Cutty Sark station will be closed for the duration of the Games, so the nearest open DLR and rail station to Greenwich Park will be Greenwich station.)
Less than 10 minutes walking distance away are three more hotspots: Davey’s Wine Vaults on Greenwich High Road; the cafe on the second floor of the Greenwich Picture House Cinema, also on Greenwich High Road; and the Greenwich Union Pub on Royal Hill.
North Greenwich Arena and ExCeL
Wifi at the North Greenwich Arena may be more of a limited commodity. North Greenwich Underground station is one of the select stations with free wifi during the Games, but access within the arena itself will be harder to find.
Many of the eateries inside the venue, such as Nando’s and Wagamama, have partnerships with The Cloud and provide free wifi in their dining areas, but service may not be universally available in every location.
Wireless at ExCel London is similarly limited. A network called SSID0 is freely accessible from the upper walkway of the Custom House DLR station, but this station will be exit-only during the Games. There are BT wifi access points throughout the ExCel venue, and Fox’s at ExCel grants all paying customers free access by printing the daily wifi code to their network on every receipt.
Other London venues
Free wifi near Hyde Park, Earl’s Court, the Horse Guards Parade, and the Mall is easier to come by. Independent bars, pubs, and cafes with free wireless abound in these areas, as do many chains with The Cloud, including Pret-a-Manger, Caffe Nero, and Pizza Express.
Hyde Park may have few, if any, wireless access points inside the green space itself, but the park is surrounded by bars, cafes, and hotel lobbies with networks, including five wifi-ready Underground stations: Hyde Park Corner, Queensway, Marble Arch, Lancaster Gate, and Green Park.
Earl’s Court Underground station doesn’t have wifi, but The Blackbird restaurant next door does, as does the Earl’s Court event venue.
Wifi is also available near the Mall and the Horse Guards Parade from various pubs in Whitehall and via Charing Cross, Westminster, and Embankment Underground stations.