Feeds

Virgin mulls handing out free Wi-Fi

You can have too much bandwidth

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Virgin Media is talking to local authorities about providing free metro Wi-Fi, using bandwidth that's lying fallow while all its domestic customers are at work.

The idea was alluded to during the investor's call last week, and responding to questions the company's CEO Neil Berkett confirmed that Virgin Media was in "advanced conversations" with some London boroughs about providing half a megabit of free connectivity, ramping up to 10Mb/s for Virgin cable customers.

Berkett described Virgin's cable network as "effectively idle during the day", so argued that filling it with Wi-Fi backhaul makes sense while 3G is still spotty and 4G has yet to arrive.

Not that Virgin Media sees a long-term revenue stream from municipal Wi-Fi. The project was described as something worth taking a punt on, and as it will only cost a few million Berkett reassured investors that "I'm sure Eamonn [O'Hare, 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 the cost and complexity has been underestimated. Wi-Fi is not suited to blanket coverage, given its lack of channels and susceptibility to interference, 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 cheap, perhaps cheap enough to provide connectivity in residential areas as well as more-trafficked locations. Unlike in the case of council-run schemes, Virgin also has no obligation (legal or moral) to provide blanket coverage, which should make the idea much more viable. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Trying to sell your house? It'd better have KILLER mobile coverage
More NB than transport links to next-gen buyers - study
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Speak your brains on SIGNAL-FREE mobile comms firm here
Is goTenna tech a goer? Time to grill CEO, CTO
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.