Feeds

London Mayor Boris grilled on Virgin's Underground penetration

Answered - who, what and for how long

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Virgin Media's London Underground wireless monopoly will last five years, but that's all right 'cos it didn't cost Transport for London a penny and other companies were allowed to bid.

Responding to questions from Mayorwatch, TfL explained that Virgin Media is paying to provide public Wi-Fi over infrastructure that was being fitted to the tube network anyway, and that Virgin will be allowed to make use of "public information channels" to publicise its service, but it won't get free advertising.

After a few months of free access (long enough to last the Olympics) the network will remain gratis for Virgin Media customers, but everyone else will have to pay. Virgin Media will maintain its monopoly at least until the contract comes up for renewal in 2017, but there won't be Virgin logos on the platforms beyond those within the usual poster sites.

Virgin Media will get some promotion of the service, as the London Underground will be "allowing access to the same public information channels used for other service improvement" but exactly what that means isn't clear.

No one will say how much Virgin Media is paying for all this, but it's not having to pay for the infrastructure (as it was going in for staff use anyway) so the money is for the monopoly, and the backhaul out of the Underground.

That monopoly shouldn't be underestimated, though in practical terms Wi-Fi on the platform might not be very useful (as the majority of time is spent on the train, particularly in the middle of London) but the bragging rights are considerable.

Virgin Media can't mention the Olympics, it isn't a sponsor so can't even refer to the fact that the free Wi-Fi will last until the end of the 2012 Games. It will be interesting to see how Virgin Media spins this to make its money, but even when it reaches the promised 120 stations it's not going to make a significant difference to most Londoners. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
ISPs' post-net-neutrality world is built on 'bribes' says Tim Berners-Lee
Father of the worldwide web is extremely peeved over pay-per-packet-type plans
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.