Virgin plans free Wi-Fi for London

 By Richi Jennings (@richi ). Virgin Media (NASDAQ:VMED) is planning a free Wi-Fi network for London -- possibly ready in time for the 2012 Olympics. Is this crazy talk? In fact, Virgin's intention is indeed intact, it...

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 By (@richi ).

Virgin Media (NASDAQ:VMED) is planning a free Wi-Fi network for London -- possibly ready in time for the 2012 Olympics. Is this crazy talk? In fact, Virgin's intention is indeed intact, it implies.

  • On the one hand, plenty of others have tried and failed to offer free municipal wireless.
  • On The Other Hand, perhaps Virgin has additional advantages that'll make this attempt a success.

Plus, today's skateboarding duck: Let's go to Oktoberfest!..


Tom Brewster reports:
Virgin [Media]...CEO Neil Berkett said the ISP was in “quite advanced conversations” with a number of boroughs and councils...“We would provide free Wi-Fi for all at 0.5Mbps with full access to Virgin Media customers at up to 10Mbps. ... There are very few things I take a punt on as a business person - this is probably one of them.” ... The service could provide some serious competition for BT Openzone, which charges for access.
...
Virgin may be targeting the Olympics for completion of the rollout. ...Boris Johnson said he wanted free Wi-Fi for London in time for the 2012 Games, yet little headway has been made. more.png


Bill Ray adds:
Berkett described Virgin's cable network as "effectively idle during the day", so argued that filling it with Wi-Fi backhaul makes sense. ...[A]s it will only cost a few million Berkett reassured investors that "I'm sure...[Virgin's CFO] won't beat me up if I get it wrong."
...
Municipal Wi-Fi has failed in all sorts of places, generally because [of] the cost and complexity. ... Wi-Fi is not suited to blanket coverage, given its lack of channels...and making it economically viable has been a huge challenge. ... But Virgin Media already has the backhaul in place, so putting in Wi-Fi is...perhaps cheap enough. more.png


John Hunt thinks about it:
No detail of how they plan to wire-up the network has been released, but [a previous] announcement indicated that they would connect up Wi-Fi access points to their green road-side cabinets.
...
A second option could see them following a similar model to BT who [use] end user wireless access points. This could add a critical mass...but might not offer as reliable a service.  more.png


But Mof Gimmers waxes bitter:
Virgin Media...are definitely still looking out for you. ... Well, if you live in London. ... They’re not bothered about you at all if you live anywhere else.
...
London Mayor, Boris Johnson, will be thrilled no doubt...despite not being able to sort it out himself because, obviously, he’s about as effective as [hysterically-funny, but quite-rude simile redacted; click More to read it]more.png


Meanwhile, Rik Sweeney sarcastically comments on the 0.5 Mbps promise:
So the same speed as what paying customers receive right now? more.png


Today's Skateboarding Duck...




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Richi Jennings Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. His writing has previously won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.