Virgin Media have re-iterated their plans to roll out a wireless network, this time indicating that it would develop a Wi-Fi metro network in London, and offer free access for everyone. The news follows the announcement last November that they were 'actively exploring' the proposal.
The company are looking to offer free access to everyone but at only half a megabit per second (0.5Mbps) whilst Virgin Media customers could connect at 10 Mbps. 0.5Mbps would be adequate for mobile users using smart phones, although may quickly seem slow once the mobile network beef up their networks with LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology which could see speeds of up to 100Mbps whilst on the move.
"There's very few things I take a punt on as a business person. It's a few million pounds, but I think it is a real opportunity if you think about the gap that is occurring between what the consumer needs outside the home and what they can get on 3G."Neil Berkett, (CEO) Virgin Media
The company are planning on using spare capacity that is available in the network when it is under-utilised during the day and have been running tests in Kent, their usual test-bed area. The company are also considering wholesaling the network to other providers.
No detail of how they plan to wire-up the network has been released, but the November announcement indicated that they would connect up Wi-Fi access points to their green road-side cabinets to enable the service. A second option could see them following a similar model to BT who have enabled BT Openzone on end user wireless access points. This could add a critical mass of access points, but might not offer as reliable a service as a dedicated network.