Kudos to O2, the Telefónica-owned mobile operator, for planning a country-wide free Wi-Fi network. That country just so happens to be the UK, the home of "dark forces." Hmm. The network should be fully operational by 2013.
The Wi-Fi network will be free to both O2 subscribers and non-O2 subscribers, which is to say that it'll be free to everyone. (You'll still have to sign up to tap into the network, however.) It'll be present in O2-owned locations before expanding to other, hipper establishments, like bars and restaurants.
One prominent analyst called the move a "step in the right direction."
What's perhaps most interesting about this is that widely available Wi-Fi isn't nearly as compelling in 2011 (and certainly won't be come 2013) as it may have been in say, 2003. We all have (at least) 3G, right? And provided you're not in the absolute middle of nowhere you should be able to tweet to your heart's content—killing your humanity in the process!—no Wi-Fi required.
All of this sorta reminds me of when President Obama said last night that South Korea has faster Internet access than the us here in the mighty U.S. It probably helps that South Korea is a relatively small, densely populated, and highly urbanized society, but that's not to say we can't do a better job here. Services like Steam and Netflix most certainly depend upon that.