Residents in Birmingham will be able to access free WiFi in the city centre later this year after the council signed a deal with Virgin Media Business.
To install the service, which will be live by September, Virgin Media Business will have the right to install small cell technology on the city’s infrastructure to help operators boost its networks.
The council has granted Virgin Media Business access to around 90,000 pieces of street furniture, such as lamp posts, where it can install small cell technology if requested to do so by mobile network operators.
This should help them keep pace with the rocketing mobile data demands by increasing coverage and capacity, as Kevin Baughan, director of wireless at Virgin Media Business, explained to V3.
“By running the hosting service it allows any operator to ask us to deploy a small cell in an area where they may not have complete coverage or want to boost capacity and we can provide that using the furniture around the city,” he said.
“It’s important to give operators the flexibility they need to meet mobile demands, especially as the demand is only going to rocket in the coming years.”
Birmingham City councillor James McKay said working with Virgin to bring the service to the city would have numerous benefits for residents and businesses alike.
“Historically, Birmingham is known as the city of a thousand trades, and through the Smart City agenda led by Digital Birmingham, we are keen to embrace modern technologies to encourage enterprise and innovation,” he said.
“Boosted 3G and 4G coverage will help businesses of all sizes be as competitive as possible in the fiercely competitive global marketplace.”
Areas of the city that will be covered by the service are Victoria Square, New Street, Moor Street, High Street, St Philip’s Cathedral and Broadway Plaza in the city.
The project follows similar services available in Leeds and Bradford provided by Virgin Media Business, but while these only offer 30 minutes of free browsing per day, the Birmingham service is free for unlimited use.
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