Free WiFi plan for London

Virgin Media is reported to be fairly close to launching a free public WiFi scheme in London that will challenge BT’s Openzone network, which charges for access.

Virgin Media plans to install WiFi routers in its existing infrastructure, including the street-side cabinets that distribute its cable network into homes, and current talks with councils, said to be at an advanced stage, are focused on gaining permission for the necessary works.

The idea is to provide free Wifi access for all, with Virgin Media’s WiFi network freely available to anyone at 0.5Mbps and to its home broadband subscribers at up to 10Mbps.

This approach contrasts with BT’s extensive Openzone network, which although free to BT broadband customers, is charged at as much as £5.99 for 90 minutes’ browsing. A spokesman for Virgin Media described the plans as “a punt” that will cost Virgin Media a few million pounds and will “keep them [BT] honest”.

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