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Virgin Media Reveals FREE City Wireless Broadband for Leeds and Bradford

Friday, Nov 30th, 2012 (9:00 am) - Score 1,329

Cable ISP Virgin Media Business has this morning announced the win of a vital concession agreement that will allow it to begin rolling out a free city wireless internet (wifi) network to cover over 1.2 million citizens of Leeds and Bradford in England (United Kingdom).

The new network, which will go live from January 2013 (phase one), is expected to be at least partly funded by some £14.4m that was jointly awarded to Bradford and Leeds as part of the government’s Urban Broadband Fund (UBF), which aims to support the roll-out of “ultrafast” (80-100Mbps) fixed line broadband services and “high speed public wi-fi” to a selection of UK cities.

Virgin plans to use the same 4G (LTE) capable Small Cell (shoebox sized devices) technology, which is fuelled by capacity from its fixed line network and have already been sucessfully tested in Newcastle and Bristol (England), to power the new service. During the original trial Virgin claimed that its Small Cells delivered speeds that were “three times faster than current 3G networks” and could potentially achieve up to 90Mbps.

Kevin Baughan, Director of Wireless at Virgin, said:

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. In Leeds and Bradford, we’re working with both the local authorities and mobile operators to put in place the infrastructure that will give residents, consumers and businesses access to the wireless connectivity that they need.”

Councillor Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council, added:

I’m delighted our citizens, visitors and businesses will be among the first in the country to benefit from a free, fast, accessible city centre Wi-Fi service. Leeds is leading the way in ensuring that our infrastructure is in place to make the most of future digital developments and we are pleased that our neighbours Bradford are also supporting the regional push for super-fast broadband.”

Councillor David Green, Leader of Bradford Council, added:

The super connected city initiative means a great deal for Bradford as we are a growing city with a big economy and the initiative will give existing local companies a greater competitive edge in national and global markets, as well attracting new companies and bringing additional jobs. Local residents will also be able to take advantage of the opportunities that enhanced broadband connections will bring.”

The new WiFi service will apparently be “open to all” and operated by Virgin’s partner Global Reach Technology Ltd. The first locations to benefit in time for the New Year will be Briggate in Leeds and Bridge Street in Bradford, followed by Millennium Square in Leeds and City Park in Bradford during early in 2013.

VirginMedia Business claims to be carrying 35% of all business broadband traffic.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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