Virgin Plans Broadband Hotspot Network
Virgin Media is looking to provide public Wi-Fi in city centres, offering data transfer speeds of up to 5Mbps
Internet service provider Virgin Media is reportedly looking to launch a network of Wi-Fi hotspots in city centres across the country, with data transfer speeds of up to 5Mbps.
According to a Virgin Media spokesperson, the company is “actively exploring opportunities around Wi-Fi and speaking to a number of organisations, including local authorities, about this.”
With the number of smartphones and tablets on the market constantly on the up, mobile phone operators in the UK are struggling to meet their customers’ demand for 3G mobile Internet access, and many experts are now recommending public Wi-Fi as a solution.
Virgin claims its plan to launch public Wi-Fi hotspots is inspired by US cable firm Cablevision, which has provided thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots on the back of its network in New York.
Virgin Against BT
“It takes the sheer power of the cable broadband network and puts it where people need it,” said Kevin Baughan, Virgin’s director of advanced technology, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.
Meanwhile, Virgin’s plan is also seen as a move against BT’s Openzone, which already has 3,900 hotspots providing up to 8Mbps.
Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Retail, told ISP Review that the company has added more than 780,000 hotspots across the UK in the past six months and will continue to do so, as “demand for wireless access is growing at a record rate”.
Unlike BT, Virgin’s hotspots will concentrate on city centres where there is sufficient demand.
“This isn’t about building broad coverage,” says Baughan, ” it’s about giving you fast, predictable, access where you need it”.
Free For Virgin Mobile and Home Broadband Users
Once up and running, Virgin’s home broadband and mobile customers are likely to enjoy the Wi-Fi service free of charge. Others will have to sign up for a pay-as-you-go or subscription deal.
The company is also considering providing the service to whole communities via agreements with local councils.
The Wi-Fi hotspot network will work by placing broadband routers in secure public locations and connecting them to Virgin’s network kerbside green boxes.