By: MarkJ - 26 November, 2010 (7:34 AM)
virgin media uk plans broadband wi-fi serviceOvum, a technology and telecoms analyst firm, has suggested that cable operator Virgin Media could support its plans for a national UK Wi-Fi Hotspot service (public wireless broadband internet access points) by acquiring or partnering with Three (3) .

Ovum claims that 3's data-centric network, which delivers one of the most comprehensive 3G mobile phone and Mobile Broadband services, would benefit Virgin's Wi-Fi ambitions (original news) and boost Three (3) with some extra scale.

Ovum's Principal Analyst, Steven Hartley, told V3:

"BT uses infrastructure already in place to provide Wi-Fi services, but its offering doesn't generate much revenue. Virgin, meanwhile, will have to create a [wireless] infrastructure and then try to differentiate itself. By partnering with Three, the opportunity to cross sell is present as Virgin has a reputation as a content provider and a lot of multimedia that it wants to push out."

However in practice this would be a lot more complicated to achieve, not least because Virgin Media already has a successful mobile platform (Virgin Mobile) that is based off a T-Mobile (Everything Everywhere) partnership (3 is an independent partner in a related network sharing deal with EE).

Similarly Three (3) concentrates on Mobile Broadband , while Virgin specifically wants to leverage its faster cable network to produce a directly competing Wi-Fi solution. It's also worth remembering that Three (3) doesn't have a Wi-Fi Hotspot service of its own. We feel that such an acquisition would in fact be highly unlikely and indeed unnecessary.
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