Virgin Media is hoping to make the dream of free public Wi-Fi for all a reality in London.
The company is in “quite advanced negotiations” with London councils and it is hopeful that rollout would begin in the “not too distant future.” The plan will be a direct competitor to BT’s Openzone and The Cloud, both of which offer widespread Wi-Fi coverage within London.
However, unlike Openzone and The Cloud, Virgin Media’s plan is to make the service available to everyone, however its own broadband customers will benefit from superior speeds. Anyone will be able to access the network at speeds up to 0.5Mbps while subscribers will have access to 10Mbps speeds - all for free.
Speaking about the project this week, Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett described the plans as a “punt” costing the company a few million pounds. He added that he hoped Virgin Media’s entrance into the market would keep his competitors honest.Currently BT Openzone is free to its broadband subscribers but can cost up to £5.99 for 90 minutes for others. The Cloud wireless networks are also available for free to some O2 customers, but again cost a lot for everyone else.
In order to roll out this network, Virgin Media will install Wi-Fi routers in its street-side cabinets and talks with the various councils around London centre on allowing this work to be carried out.
Berkett also said that consumers’ data needs were not being met by the current 3G network and with an expected delay before 4G devices and networks are available on this side of the Atlantic, this could fill the gap. Virgin Media might also wholesale the faster level of access to mobile networks.
Source: The Telegraph