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Birmingham UK Signs Deal to Blanket City Centre with FREE Virgin WiFi

Tuesday, Jul 23rd, 2013 (8:37 am) - Score 521

As expected the Birmingham City Council (BCC) has signed a new deal with Virgin Media Business (VMB) that will result in the operator rolling out an unlimited free wireless internet (wifi) zone across key parts of the city centre. The latest 3G and 4G (mobile) based small cell technology will also be deployed.

Some of the initial areas to benefit from this new “high performanceWiFi service, which will go live from September 2013, include: Victoria Square, New Street, Moor Street, High Street, St Philip’s Cathedral and the plaza in front of the new Library of Birmingham.

In addition VMB has announced that it will also roll-out their “ground-breakingsmall cell (miniature base stations) based hosting service to Mobile Network Operators (MNO), which allows them to “supercharge their wireless networks” by being able to more effectively target where additional coverage and capacity is required.

Kevin Baughan, VMBs Director of Wireless, said:

Over the past few years we’ve seen consumer demand for mobile data skyrocket as smartphone and tablet use has really come to the fore. By enabling the deployment of small cell technologies, we’re transforming the mobile broadband experience and ensuring that Birmingham stays on the leading edge of digital connectivity.

This means that residents, visitors and businesses will gain access to a superfast mobile services and an unlimited free WiFi service in the city centre for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’re very proud to be a key part in meeting the digital goals and aspirations of Birmingham City Council.”

As part of the deal VMB will be allowed to make use of local city street furniture (e.g. lamp-posts) to deploy the service. The council would in turn hope to benefit from an income stream via the access rights to their street furniture. VMB will also use their “extensive fibre network” to fuel the services demand for capacity.

Virgin currently plans to start its first UK joint trials of small cell technology with mobile operators in the “coming months“, which should prepare the way for their first commercial deployment at the start of 2014.

It’s unclear how this will all affect the long-term commercial viability of private wifi networks, such as those being offered by various local cafes and shops.

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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