Virgin Media is significantly beefing up its outdoor Wi-Fi coverage in the UK by buying the hotspot business of wireless infrastructure firm Arqiva.
The deal will give Liberty Global's UK operation more than 31,000 Wi-Fi access points across 6,500 locations, as it tries to provide enough coverage to rival that of key competitors BT and Sky.
BT is clearly in the lead, promising its customers access to over 5 million hotspots. Sky and its The Cloud Wi-Fi business only offer "over 20,000" access points -- but then again, Virgin Mobile's customers already get access to The Cloud as well.
In a statement, Virgin Media said the Arqiva WiFi acquisition "gives a significant boost to Virgin Media’s capability to provide out-of-home connectivity for consumers and businesses and propels the ultrafast broadband provider to become one of the UK’s largest public Wi-Fi providers."
Apart from The Cloud, Virgin Mobile customers already had access to 3,000 Arqiva locations, largely in pubs, phone boxes and major airports.
The company also provides Wi-Fi access in 250 London Underground stations, and it claims around half a million mobile devices and laptops connect to this network daily. Its Android users can also access free public Wi-Fi in 150,000 locations courtesy of Virgin's longstanding deal with DeviceScape.
“Arqiva’s technology is central to millions of vital connections for broadcast and telecoms in the UK and across the globe," Arqiva CEO Simon Beresford-Wylie said. "We have made significant investment in Wi-Fi in recent years, resulting in a scalable and robust platform for customers and I firmly believe that Virgin Media will be a great owner of the Wi-Fi business. Under this new stewardship, the business will be well placed to grow and gain market share.”
The existing Arqiva WiFi team numbers more than 100, and the employees will transition across to the Virgin Media Business department.
- see this Virgin Media announcement