Virgin Media challenges BT with promise of free Wi-Fi for London

Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett said the company is negotiating with a number of London councils over plans to offer free Wi-Fi in the near future and challenge the high price of BT's Openzone Wi-Fi network.

Berkett

According to  Berkett, the Wi-Fi network will be provided free to anyone within range at 500Kbps, and to its cable broadband subscribers at speeds up to 10Mbps.

"It is part of our ethos of advancing digital lifestyles," Berkett told the Daily Telegraph. He added that the plan will cost the company "a few million pounds," and will "keep them [BT] honest." BT's Openzone network, although free to BT broadband customers, can cost as much as £5.99 for 90 minutes' browsing.

However, Berkett also revealed that he might consider offering the Wi-Fi network under a wholesale agreement to help mobile operators overcome 3G congestion experienced in some parts of London.

Berkett said that 3G mobile broadband networks are not satisfying consumers' demands for mobile data and suggested that the few years' delay expected before LTE networks and devices become widely available left a gap in the market. "The gap is increasingly occurring between consumers' need for data outside the home and what they can get on 3G," he said.

For more:
- see this Daily Telegraph article
- see this Telegeography article

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