Feeds

Virgin Media snags London Underground Wi-Fi monopoly

Free in tube stations - but only for the summer

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Virgin Media will be fitting 120 London tube stations with Wi-Fi, but once the Olympic summer is over the service will no longer be free and the firm will begin charging by the minute.

Around 80 stations will initially be kitted out with wireless access in time for the Olympics, while the remaining 40 or so earmarked by Transport for London (TfL) won't get a Wi-Fi network until the end of 2012.

TfL serves 270 stations across its tube network in the capital.

The Wi-Fi network will only extend to stations, not into trains or tunnels, but it will be free, for the summer at least. Virgin Media customers will get free access to the underground Wi-Fi network indefinitely, but everyone else will have to sign up to pay for the minutes they want to use, unless they're only interested in travel information which will continue to be free.

The deal was announced by Boris Johnson, who has been determined to get some sort of connectivity underground before the Olympics. Virgin Media reckons it will have 80 stations wired up for wireless by then, with another 40 to follow by the end of 2012, by which time most of us will have to pay to use them.

The fibre-optic cable slinger won't say how long it is going to offer free access to the network, only that it starts in July and will last for "the summer", but it's safe to assume it won't kick in the billing system until the last Olympic visitor is safely out of the city.

Here's a canned statement from Virgin Media boss Neil Berkett:

With the eyes of the world on London this summer, we’ll be showing off our capital as a leading connected city on the global stage. We’re putting the power of Virgin Media’s fibre optic network in the hands of millions of Londoners, commuters and visitors and are delighted to be launching Wi-Fi for free throughout summer 2012 and beyond.

Neither the government nor the operator is talking money, only telling us that the cost of deployment "is covered by the commercial contract that has been awarded to Virgin Media". It's unlikely the firm will make much money selling pre-paid access, but the advertising value shouldn't be underestimated – one can imagine the peer pressure from a group of mates when only one isn't staying connected.

Not that the peer pressure will last for long, London's underground network is pretty efficient (at least in the centre) and there won't be much time for surfing before a train comes along to whisk one into a tunnel and away from Virgin Media's Wi-Fi network. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Virgin Media so, so SORRY for turning spam fire-hose on its punters
Hundreds of emails flood inboxes thanks to gaffe
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
AT&T dangles gigabit broadband plans over 100 US cities
So soon after a mulled Google Fiber expansion, fancy that
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
EE & Vodafone will let you BONK on the TUBE – with Boris' blessing
Transport for London: You can pay, but don't touch
Turnbull gave NBN Co NO RULES to plan blackspot upgrades
NBN Co faces huge future Telstra bills and reduces fibre footprint
NBN Co plans fibre-to-the-basement blitz to beat cherry-pickers
Heading off at the pass operation given same priority as blackspot fixing
NBN Co in 'broadband kit we tested worked' STUNNER
Announcement of VDSL trial is not proof of concept for fibre-to-the-node
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.