Virgin Media Business looks set to carry out a rapid roll-out of a free Wi-Fi service to residents and visitors to Birmingham as they have been granted the concession to provide the free service across the city centre and plan to be up and running in at least some areas for September 2013.
"This project will dramatically accelerate mobile broadband investment in the city.
It will bring enhanced high-speed mobile broadband coverage for more people, and the free Virgin Media Business Wi-Fi zone in the city centre will help bridge the digital divide for those who are otherwise unable to access such services.
Historically, Birmingham was known as the city of a thousand trades, and through the Smart City agenda led by Digital Birmingham, we are keen to embrace modern technologies to encourage enterprise and innovation and to create opportunities to support 21st century living. Boosted 3G and 4G coverage will help businesses of all sizes be as competitive as possible in the fiercely competitive global marketplace."Councillor James McKay, Birmingham City Council
Interestingly Virgin Media Business service is promising no usage limits, so that rather than the limited 30 minutes you get at some free Wi-Fi locations you can use the service all day and apparently it will be scaled so that video streaming will work.
The concession should give Virgin Media Business access to install its hardware in up to 90,000 lamp posts, the concession will also mean that alongside the Wi-Fi network small 3G/4G base stations can also be installed to help provide better coverage for mobile calls and data in the city. The miniature base stations will take longer than the free Wi-Fi to appear as the first commercial deployment of these cells will a joint trial with mobile operators and not start until 2014.