Virgin Media Business to roll out wireless in urban UK cities

30 November 2012 | Kavit Majithia


Virgin Media Business has won a contract to provide wireless connectivity outside of London in accordance with government plans to create a series of “super connected” urban hubs.

The contract win means the company will be able to offer mobile internet access to 1.2 million people in city centres, using small cell transmitters which will tap into a large scale public Wifi network.

The Wifi service will be accessible by the public, and operated on the group’s corporate business arm.

There is an increasing trend in the market for operators to tap in to Wifi networks, as the burden on infrastructure increases due to large data demands, and the move has been described as “land grab” by analysts.

Virgin Media Business has already rolled out Wifi services on the London underground, and there are tenders to launch wireless networks in other UK cities.

Public funds of approximately £150 million have been allocated to ten cities for fast broadband access, capable of a minimum download speed of 80Mbps.

Wifi transmitters will be allocated on lampposts and other areas of the city centres in Bradford and Leeds, with onward links to Virgin’s nationwide fibre network. Virgin Media will also sell access to its network to large mobile groups through small cell transmitters in a bid to boost 3G and 4G coverage.

“Small cells can transform the mobile experience by providing the connectivity needed to match the explosive broadband demand from the rapidly growing number of smartphones and tablets,” added Kevin Baughan, director of wireless at Virgin Media Business.