Intel and Cisco have been persuaded to ensure Soho's wireless network is continually updated with new Wi-Fi technology.
The WLAN, to be put in place by the London area's local administration over the next six to nine months, will be initially based on 802.11b technology.
However, Westminster Council chief executive Peter Rogers said yesterday that he was "close" to agreeing a "memorandum of understanding" with the two technology companies that should see more advanced wireless systems used over time.
This effectively means the incorporation of 802.11g and later the 802.11i security standard and 802.11e quality of service specification.
Sources familiar with the IEEE standard-setting process believe that 802.11e is unlikely to be ratified before June/July, while 802.11i will now not become an official standard until the summer. Both dates are some way past the original deadlines set for their ratification.
The quality of service spec will be of particular value to Westminster, which plans to use its WLAN to support low-cost IP-based cameras for CCTV uses. Ensuring good frame-rates (typically 12-24fps) will be essential to using camera footage for evidence in criminal trials. Westminster's Soho coverage scheme will also involve the roll-out of some 50 cameras through the area, bounded by Shaftsbury Avenue, Charing Cross Road, Oxford Street and Regents Street.
A commitment from Intel and Cisco to create a system capable of meeting Westminster's goals will in return provide them with the right to use the WLAN as a technology showcase, Rogers said. ®