Broadband News

Virgin Media WiFi emerges from the underworld

Virgin Media Business is leveraging its fibre network to start deployment of a free public WiFi service for the 1.2 million residents of Bradford and Leeds.

The service forms part of the super-connected city plan for the area that called for umbrella WiFi, interestingly the coverage in the Financial Times points out that no state subsidy is involved in this contract, with income from selling small cell sites and advertising via the WiFi portal covering the costs of running the service. The Virgin Media Business press release confirms that the WiFi network will be at no risk or financial cost to the cities themselves.

The small cell site idea with the launch of 4G may prove to be very financially attractive, as 4G operators will be under pressure to demonstrate that 4G meets its coverage obligations and with the higher bandwidth demands of 4G access to fibre in the street furniture where power has already been provided to power a WiFi hotspot should prove attractive.

While people may ask why would people need 4G mobile broadband if free WiFi is available, a lot will depend on how free the WiFi offered is (possible time limits, speed etc) and by having a mixture of WiFi, 3G and 4G in the area if any one network becomes congested people will have the option of switching around for data, as well as call quality improving significantly. Currently while mobile reception in many city centres is good, once you venture into covered areas or shops the signal level quickly falls away.

Global Reach Technology Ltd are the Virgin Media Business partners in delivering the service, which should be available in the first locations just in time for the New Year at Briggate in Leeds and Bridge Street in Bradford, the next areas to be covered will be Millennium Square in Leeds and City Park in Bradford early in 2013.


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