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Virgin Considers Public WiFi Network

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According to a statement from a Virgin Media director, the company is looking to expand its broadband services by rolling out a wireless network around the country.

Kevin Baughan, director of advanced technology with Virgin Media, said: "We have been inspired by what Cablevision has been able to do in New York and are actively exploring the possibility of creating a similar network here. It takes the sheer power of the cable broadband network and puts it where people need it.”

If Virgin did go ahead with the roll out it would be challenging BT Openzone and The Cloud who currently dominate the market. The company would place wireless routers in secure public locations and connect them to the green cabinets used to power its network. Speeds of 5Mbps have been promised though this is almost half the speed of the 8Mbps offered by BT Openzone.
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Baughan outlined why Virgin were considering this move: “Previous attempts were to fulfill a social objective. This is to solve a real problem. Steve Jobs {chief executive of Apple} has created phenomenal demand, and we've got the best fibre {optic} network in the country that could help meet it. This isn't about building broad coverage, it's about giving you fast, predictable, access where you need it."

It is expected that Virgin would offer its home and mobile broadband customers free access to the wireless network with others using a pay-as-you-surf system – similar to the way BT operates its network. Plans are being finalised in London to deploy a city-wide wireless network in time for the 2012 Olympic games but general coverage of such networks tends to leave some holes.

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