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Virgin Media pilots Smart Wi-Fi pavement in Chesham
Thursday 15 October 2015 09:37:11 by Andrew Ferguson

Free Wi-fi speeds in Chesham- Oct 15
(click to view larger version)
Chesham Virgin Media Wi-Fi Speeds - Oct 15 (large image)

Free public Wi-Fi is now live along Chesham High Street and parts of Lowndes Park courtesy of Virgin Media in co-operation with Chesham District Council. The scheme differs from other public Wi-Fi areas in that it is the first UK pilot of Wi-Fi hidden in the pavement and has a maximum speed of 166 Mbps. So of course we had to wander over on the evening of the 14th October to put the network through its paces, and the map to the left shows the speeds we got at various points on the high street with the fastest average of 120.9 Mbps at the southern end of the High Street by the clock tower, and this was not with the mobile phone held over a manhole, we got similar speeds at several points.

The network is available to all 21,000 residents of Chesham and unlike many other schemes it has a very simple login page and avoids the troublesome codes that some Wi-Fi hot-spots insist on sending to your mobile. We did find that download speeds dropped very low around the Costa in the High Street, which may have been down to interference from other networks, but even including those the average download speed in some 33 tests was 46.2 Mbps and an impressive 27 Mbps upload, excluding the slow tests the mean rises to 54.3 Mbps download and 29 Mbps upload.

"Not only is this the first time we’ve built metropolitan WiFi directly from our street cabinets, it is also the UK’s first deployment of a WiFi connected pavement. It is literally public WiFi under your feet. We want to build more networks like this across the UK and encourage more forward thinking councils just like Chesham to get in touch."

Gregor McNeil, Managing Director of Consumer at Virgin Media
Wi-Fi hidden in pavement in Chesham
(click to view larger version)

Obviously if all 21,000 residents cram into the High Street at once speeds are going to slow down, and some of the tests we did shot up in speed part way through suggesting others in bars and restaurants may already have been using the free service.


Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Smart idea.
Posted by binary about 1 year ago
Is this really the future... colour me sceptical.

I rather think that most councils have more important priorities when it comes to spending their increasingly stretched resources than something like this.

Sorry to be all bah humbug about it!
Posted by djfunkdup about 1 year ago
Yea move on please lol Positive only posts would be a nice change .. Good stuff VM Good to see you thinking out the box again :)
Posted by ZenUser27 about 1 year ago
SO why the hell can't they give paying customers more than 12? clearly the network can take it?
Posted by leexgx about 1 year ago
normal customers only using 2 line bonding on the upload at the moment (not 4 as advertised the modem Support 8 down which are all used and 4 up but only 2 channels are only been used on upload)

these manhole will be using 4 channel bonding on the upload so they can get 40mb upload (out of total of 122mb) same thing with download they are setup in 8 channel mode support 400mb total bandwidth (but it would kill the network) but limited to 166mb or i would imagine 200mb later on once they are more cards in the local cabs to add more upstream and downstream channels
Posted by leexgx about 1 year ago
to get more then 200mb likely need a 16 channel support so not to overload downstream channles (higher would be better for future proofing the modems with 32 channel support would support upto 1gb/s download speeds) down and 8 up channel up for more new superhub 3 name (i can't see upload speeds been any more than 80-100mb on docsis 3 as it does not scale as well as download does) maybe they start to roll out full fiber (but it is easier to just add more cards in the cabs to add more upstream and downstream channels)
Posted by craski about 1 year ago
Seems reasonable to embed in a pavement given all the infrastructure is already in there. What is the business model for it, what benefit is it for Virgin to provide this FOC to the public?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
One presumes the benefit is to have a few showcase partnerships to then promote more financially beneficial set-ups in other towns.
Posted by herdwick about 1 year ago
Are the manhole covers plastic ? Presumably the tinfoil hat brigade are now investing in aluminium insoles and underwear.
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