November 2011 update: (sign up at http://o2wifi.co.uk/my)
O2 announced at the beginning of 2011 their plans to launch a nationwide Wifi network which is free of charge even for non-customers. They now have a website where you can register for the service and find your nearest hotspot. So far (Nov 2011) service is only live in over 400 O2 shops, but more hotspots are planned at restaurants, shops, etc. Please note this is a separate service to O2's existing, larger wifi network for customers only. If you don't already have access to a wifi network (e.g. via a mobile phone contract), and your town centre has one of the 400+ O2 shops (check the site), this is one way to get online for free if you're nearby.
This was announced in January, but it's starting to become available now - worth checking locally to keep your data costs down.
News story here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/12863791
Link to O2 here: http://www.o2.co.uk/wifi
Fast Wi-Fi, that's free. For all.
We're launching a hotspot network called O2 Wifi. It's free. And you don't even have to be an O2 customer to use it.
Even if your mobile’s with another network or you get your home broadband from someone else, everyone’s welcome.
What you get:
Our Wi-Fi will give you speeds up to ten times faster than a normal mobile connection. So it’ll be as good for YouTube as it is for email. It'll be simple and safe to use.
Once you've signed-up, that's it. No passwords or usernames to connect. And it won't eat into your mobile's data allowance. Just quick Wi-Fi, whenever you're near one of our hotspots.
Where you'll be able to get it
By the end of the year we'll have set up thousands of hotspots. And by 2013, we'll have 14,000 hotspots across the UK – double the number any of our competitors offer now.
You’ll be able to use our Wi-Fi in shops, cafes and bars. Then train stations, airports, shopping centres, libraries, parks and stadiums.