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Virgin Media to offer free WiFi in London

Virgin Media to offer free WiFi in London

Virgin Media's proposal would see Londoners getting access to a free 0.5Mb/sec WiFi connection.

Virgin Media is reportedly talking with London Councils about the possibility of offering a free WiFi network across London.

According to The Telegraph, Virgin Media's chief executive, Neil Berkett, told investors that he was optimistic the rollout would occur 'in the not too distant future.'

The proposal would offer free a meagre 0.5Mb/sec WiFi to everyone, although Virgin Media broadband customers would be able to tap into a far healthier 10Mb/sec service. Berkett stated that lacklustre 3G speeds and a demand for faster access for mobile devices were key motives, as well as the delayed 4G service leaving a gap in the market.

The firm intends to install WiFi routers in its existing infrastructure, and is in talks with the councils to pave the way for the work needed.

Currently, other blanket WiFi networks include BT's Openzone, where BT customers share their own WiFi bandwidth with passers-by, who then gain free access. However, non-BT customers can be charged up to £5.99 for 90 minutes of browsing using BT's own hotspots, or the WiFi of participating customers.

Would a free WiFi network be useful to you alongside your current mobile data plan? Would you consider signing up to Virgin Media's broadband service to be able to tap into the 10Mb/sec service? Let us know in the forums.

18 Comments

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Jezcentral 4th August 2011, 13:17 Quote
"Would a free WiFi network be useful to you alongside your current mobile data plan?"

I don't see how it couldn't be.
Parge 4th August 2011, 13:19 Quote
Between this, and the fact that Sky now own the cloud, we should be sorted for WiFi coverage. Nice.
[USRF]Obiwan 4th August 2011, 13:58 Quote
You lucky *******s. You should see what providers are doing over here in the Netherlands. The big three (KPN, Vodafone and T-mobile) are rasing the prices by 40% and combine phone/mss/data in one pack. so you get 1500 minutes/mss if you want to use 1gb internet data. That is 100 tot 180 euro p.m.... for such nasty packeges.

They say because the customers are using to much data now and sending less mss messages and that it generated more data than expected. That is one year after they spread FREE 'fair use' internet data with new phone subscriptions in the first place! And now when everybody has it they blame the customers and created unbearable subscriptions, it was one big consumer devildeal rippoff...
TheStockBroker 4th August 2011, 13:59 Quote
Well, I certainly won't complain - and would like to use it on my tablet/ultraportable when out and about - but what's the bet that I'd need to supply 4 credit card numbers, past 7 home & office addresses, children names, hardware mac addresses of every potential device to connect, and secretly have all my whereabouts/web activity/details logged via triangulation and my device gps'/cookies/etc?

And after all of that, service with be patchy at best, high latency, and heavily over subscribed.

TBH I think VM should just focus on increasing my 50mb connection to the 100mb package I was promised would have been available to me months ago.

TSB
Stonerd 4th August 2011, 14:01 Quote
Virgin Media obviously don't give a toss about the digital economy act.

Loving it!
mclean007 4th August 2011, 14:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by uktardbasher
Virgin Media obviously don't give a toss about the digital economy act.
Um, you say that why?
mclean007 4th August 2011, 14:46 Quote
TBH anything that reduces the massive overloading of London's 3G networks gets a massive thumbs up from me. Hopefully once you're registered it will hand over seamlessly without needing to go through a gateway every time - there's nothing quite as annoying as when your smartphone connects to a "familiar" wifi network and then silently stops pushing e-mails etc. because, although it's connected to the hotspot, you need to launch the browser and click through the gateway to get anywhere.

This is pretty annoying - my work has an open wifi network for clients called "Guest", which my phone happily connects to, but if I go anywhere else which has a network called "Guest" (and trust me there are a lot of them), it will merrily connect and sit at the gateway page. Quite frustrating! In the end I gave up trying to get my IT department to rename the guest network to something more sensible, and just got my phone to forget it - 3G is slow and patchy in the office, but better than finding out after a couple of hours in a pub with a gateway protected similarly named network that an urgent e-mail hasn't come through...
Stonerd 4th August 2011, 14:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007
Um, you say that why?

because even at .5mb/s people are going to be illegally downloading things, that is depending on IP restrictions and security in place
murraynt 4th August 2011, 15:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by uktardbasher
Virgin Media obviously don't give a toss about the digital economy act.

Loving it!

Umm.. more to the internet than illegally downlaoding stuff. Maybe no body should have internet and then there would be nobody illegally downlaoding
Stonerd 4th August 2011, 15:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by murraynt
Umm.. more to the internet than illegally downlaoding stuff. Maybe no body should have internet and then there would be nobody illegally downlaoding

I don't download illegally myself, but that doesn't mean I'm not opposed to the act, Virgin themselves have stated that although they agree with governemnent focusing on copyright infringement they disagree with the punitive measures that the act enables, the persuasion not punishment argument as old as time.
Paradigm Shifter 4th August 2011, 15:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by murraynt
Maybe no body should have internet and then there would be nobody illegally downlaoding
I'm sure someone will try that one next!
Fizzban 4th August 2011, 18:05 Quote
Brilliant idea. What else needs to be said?
azazel1024 4th August 2011, 19:18 Quote
It would certainly be nice for me the next time I hop over the pond. It annoys me that data costs are so damn high if I have a US plan roaming in Europe anywhere (not that I have a US dataplan, I am dumb phone and wifi mobile devices only kind of guy).

I just don't see how this would be a real problem or have downsides, with one exception. If this 2.4ghz blanketing of the city is going to mess up existing networks. There is already a ton of wifi interference in cities and I am just wondering how much worse this might make things.
Roskoken 4th August 2011, 20:52 Quote
Nice one, unlimited, anonymous piracy, thanks virgin!
Sloth 5th August 2011, 00:05 Quote
Awesome, can't complain about free.

Would love to have something similar in Seattle. It's a win/win/win situation, the provider gets an increase in susbscribers as customers desire full speed access, the city offers incentives for visitors and potential residents, and customers obviously get the joy of wide spread internet accessibility.
ch424 5th August 2011, 10:07 Quote
There was free public wifi in several places when I went to hong kong - notably parks. It was ideal because you could skype home and have a nice stroll around the gardens/ponds at the same time!
mongpong 5th August 2011, 11:48 Quote
I think it's time the councils all roll out free wifi in cities - it's a good way to improve the economy in my opinion. From business people staying connected, tourists accessing websites for info on city attractions, people ordering, booking and buying online from city services the list of city and economy improving tools that fast data connections bring is huge.
Toploaded 8th August 2011, 01:14 Quote
Wow, that's pretty awesome. 0.5 if it holds that speed is perfectly fine for most things too, even gaming (assuming the upload is at least 128K).

Shame I don't live in London, but good to see this kind of thing is kicking off.
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