So far, only around 6,000 people have registered to use the City of London Wi-Fi network , despite the service being offered free of charge. Some 350,000 users could get access to the free Wi-Fi service, operated by Wi-Fi firm The Cloud . But in the first month less than 2 per cent of that number have registered to use the service.

The idea of blanket Wi-Fi coverage is flawed, said Elliott Mueller, chief executive of Manchester's Metronet Wi-Fi network. "It is difficult to get people to pay for Wi-Fi because they have internet access at home and outdoor coverage is patchy," he said.

The Cloud said it is considering teaming up with mobile operators to offer Wi-Fi access bundled into phone handsets to increase take-up. "We are trying to deliver a mobile web experience," said Niall Murphy, co-founder of The Cloud.

The City of London Wi-Fi network also host services for the local council, one of which links CCTV cameras.