The demand for high-speed internet access on the go shows no signs of abating, and Virgin Media has seen that it could capitalise on this market by offering a free Wi-Fi service in London.
Virgin Media chief executive Neil Berkett explained in an earnings call that a free Wi-Fi service is on the company's agenda as part of its work to innovate in the broadband market.
"We continue to run our pilots and trials, and we are in quite advanced conversations with some boroughs and councils in respect to completing a metro rollout in parts of the London area," he said.
"The proposition would be that we would provide free Wi-Fi access for all at 0.5Mbit/s with full access to Virgin Media customers up to 10Mbit/s, and we may consider speaking to mobile network operators about wholesaling that as an activity."
Berkett added that the "punt" is exciting given the demand for better mobile internet speeds. "I think it is a real opportunity if you think about consumers' needs for data outside the home," he said.
The revelation is interesting as it shows how broadband providers are boosting their offerings with better internet access on the go, much as O2 is doing with free Wi-Fi in its stores.
BT, which has held sway in the outdoor public Wi-Fi market through its paid-for Fon and Openzone products, will not doubt be watching with interest to see whether Virgin goes ahead with its plan as the two broadband giants prepare to clash again.
One thing is for certain: visitors to London for the 2012 Olympics will be hoping that the networks are up and running to provide internet access as they cruise the capital looking for information on where to eat, what to see and which tube lines are broken.
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