Virgin looks at London Wi-Fi
11.32 Europe/London, August 1, 2011 By Julian Clover

Virgin Media is exploring the possibility of using its existing broadband infrastructure to develop a Wi-Fi ‘metro’ network in London. CEO Neil Berkett has confirmed Virgin was in “advanced conversations” with some boroughs and councils with a view to being able to deliver additional broadband services.

One proposition is for free Wi-Fi access for all at half a megabit per second, with full access to Virgin Media customers at 10 Mbps. The option of wholesaling the offer is also under consideration.

The cablenet believes that its network is under utilized during the day when people are largely out of home. This ‘spare’ capacity could then be used to provide out home service.

“There’s very few things I take a punt on as a business person. It’s a few million pounds, but I think it is a real opportunity if you think about the gap that is occurring between what the consumer needs outside the home and what they can get on 3G.”

Virgin has been trialing a metro network in Kent, and although Sky is also working on its own Wi-Fi network following the acquisition of the cloud, the two operations are not directly comparable.

Last week, Virgin reported that half of new broadband customers are now taking the 30 Mbps broadband tier or above compared to 18% taking the equivalent 20 Mbps tier last year.