4 Aug 2011

Virgin Media and London buses planning free Wi-Fi for all

All aboard for free Wi-Fi. London buses will soon be connected to the Web, while Virgin Media is planning a free Wi-Fi network open to anyone in London.
Kulveer Ranger, director of environment and digital London for the mayor, told Wired that buses will soon be fitted with Wi-Fi, following the arrival of wireless in London Underground stations. Passengers can use apps, surf the Web, and look up handy information for their journey such as where they are, where to get off or even top up their Oyster card.

Virgin is planning a free Wi-Fi network that will offer speeds of 0.5Mbps to any Tom, Dick and Harriet, whether they're Virgin customers or not. But Virgin customers will get speeds up to 10Mbps. The free network will be formed by Wi-Fi routers installed in Virgin's pavement broadband cabinets.
Candid Virgin boss Neil Berket admitted that the scheme means "taking a punt", and would cost the company "a few million pounds". He claimed the free Wi-Fi network would "keep BT honest", but the real motivation is to relieve pressure on the 3G data network and attract the attention and goodwill of potential Virgin customers.
BT Openzone currently offers free Wi-Fi out and about to home broadband customers, which shares signal from routers in other customers' homes. BT Openzone provided the trial wireless in Charing Cross station, the first to be connected to the Internet.
Virgin's plans, first announced in November, are being discussed with London councils. It's a major step towards mayor Boris Johnson's pledge last year that every bus stop and lamppost in London will be wired for Wi-Fi.
Typical, innit? You wait ages for a free Wi-Fi network and then three come along at once.

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