Virgin Media is investigating the potential of implementing public wi-fi hotspots by utilising its network of high speed cable broadband.
The service would be similar to that offered by BT and the BT Openzone network and would see the firm place hotspots at popular locations across the country.
Rather than admit being inspired by the firm’s arch rival locally, Virgin’s advance technology boss Kevin Baughan instead said that the firm had been inspired by public Wi-Fi access in New York provided by fellow cable-based broadband ISP Cablevision.
“We have been inspired by what Cablevision has been able to do in New York and are actively exploring the possibility of creating a similar network here," he said. "It takes the sheer power of the cable broadband network and puts it where people need it,” Baughan told the Telegraph.
Baughan downplayed the idea of providing a Wi-Fi access with a network to rival BT, instead saying that it would aim for “fast, predictable, access where you need it.”
What is most likely the case is that Virgin recognises the free Wi-Fi access through BT Openzone ‘perk’ for BT broadband customers as a unique selling point enticing customers towards the ADSl-provider when users have a choice. Virgin recently flexed marketing muscles in this very market by launching a web site aimed at ‘dishonest’ ISP speed ratings.
Variable connection speeds are an issue for the fixed-speed cable operator so it has sought to make hay by painting ADSL competitors as dishonest about connection speed.
If Virgin can likewise provide free Wi-Fi for its customers in major areas like city centres then at least some customers may be tempted back to Virgin.