High Tech on the High Street: UK’s First WiFi Sidewalks

virgin media high street free wifi

Free, pervasive wi-fi is a pretty big goal for this generation to figure out. Thanks to Virgin Media, one UK town gets to experience what it’s like to have free high-speed wireless under their feet and at their fingertips at all times. The conglomerate partnered with Chiltern District Council to outfit the town center in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, with Smart Pavement.

pavement wifi chesham uk

The Smart Pavement modules are waterproof resin squares that rest in the sidewalk alongside the regular concrete squares. They connect directly to Virgin’s fiber network, providing free wireless to the homes, businesses, and visitors in the area. According to Virgin, people are seeing speeds of up to 166 Mbps – or about seven times the average UK broadband speed.


The concept of integrating wireless technology into the cityscape is being considered all around the world. As internet access grows in importance, it seems that many are turning their eye toward treating it like a municipal utility – just like water or natural gas. Chesham is a grand experiment in keeping people connected even when away from home and cutting down on their mobile data usage. Installing little wifi modules could (and probably will) become a matter of routine in cities of the future.

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See more in or under Various Gizmos. November, 2015.