Virgin Media reportedly wants to create a rival to BT Wi-Fi and will hold trials in Thames Valley before expanding nationwide
Virgin Media reportedly plans to turn its broadband customers’ routers into public Wi-Fi hotspots in order to create a network to rival that of BT Wi-Fi, which employs a similar model.
According to ISPreview, letters have been sent to some customers in the Thames Valley region, suggesting a trial will be held in areas of Reading, Bracknell, Basingstoke, Newbury and Marlow before expanding nationwide.
Users are being told they don’t have to do anything to enable the service and additional bandwidth will be allocated to participants so the service they are paying for will not be affected.
Virgin Media Wi-Fi
Customers can apparently opt out in the ‘My VM Account’ section of Virgin’s website, but if they choose to do so, they will not be able to access any of the public hotspots. It is unclear which routers will be eligible for the programme, but the language suggests the functionality would be enabled via a firmware update.
TechWeekEurope has contacted Virgin Media but had not received a reply at the time of publication.
The Branson-branded company already operates Wi-Fi hotspots in London Underground stations, and on behalf of a number of local authorities, but the creation of a nationwide hotspot network would allow it to match BT’s offer of inclusive access to more than five million access points across the UK.
Such a move would also allow it to potentially mimic the ‘inside out’ network plans of its competitor, where as much mobile traffic on the Virgin Media mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) is carried via its own infrastructure, reducing the cost it pays to EE and improving indoor signal for customers. Virgin Media mobile customers already have access to Wi-Fi via The Cloud’s wireless service.