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The City of London Corporation has signed a deal with Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure (CITL) – a Reading-based cellular network supplier part-owned by mobile operators Telefónica and Vodafone – to roll out and manage its new Wi-Fi network covering the entire Square Mile.

The multimillion-pound project will replace its current offering, which is provided by Sky’s The Cloud, and will be one of London’s largest-ever investments in wireless infrastructure. It should be fully operational by the autumn.

CITL will partner Telefónica’s O2 mobile network to deploy 400 4G mobile small cells on sites including lamp posts, street signs and buildings, enhancing mobile coverage at street level and preparing the City for the advent of 5G mobile networks around 2020.

“Free, reliable, high-speed wireless internet is a must for any modern, competitive financial centre,” said Mark Boleat, chair of the City of London Corporation’s policy and resources committee. “That is why I am thrilled to have CTIL deliver this essential project for the Square Mile.

“Soon, residents, visitors and workers in the City will be able to enjoy uninterrupted wireless connectivity, and this project should ensure that wireless ‘black spots’ in the Square Mile become a thing of the past.”

Currently, mobile coverage in the Square Mile is often patchy because of a glut of tall buildings and a narrow medieval layout that obstructs 4G mobile signals.

The state-of-the-art upgrade will offer ultrafast browsing speeds, enabling users to access data-intensive services such as video-calling and video-on-demand after a one-time registration. The Corporation said the network would be more technically advanced that those in other global financial centres, such as New York.

CITL managing director Malcolm Collins said: “This is an exciting opportunity for us to work together to lead the roll-out of next-generation wireless technology.

“Small cells will be key as operators look to support customers’ growing needs. We will offer an innovative wholesale solution that will enable them to do so efficiently and effectively.”

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