Virgin Media is preparing to expand its network of public Wi-Fi, which its home broadband customers have free access to while out and about.
The provider plans to install Wi-Fi hotspot technology in street cabinets, and update home routers to allow customers to share wireless networks when in range. A free speed upgrade will be available to customers who choose to share their network.
The Telegraph claims Virgin Media will assure customers that the public network will be separated from secure, private connections ahead of the expansion, which is expected to be officially announced by the autumn.
The new investment and the creation of a nationwide hotspot network is designed to challenge rival BT's dominance in the public Wi-Fi sector. BT currently provides over five million hotspots for its customers, partly via shared capacity on home routers.
Virgin Media also hopes better Wi-Fi coverage will reduce its mobile costs, as it will be able to transfer more internet traffic and calls to the enhanced network. This'll make it less reliant on the mobile network capacity it rents from EE.
Reports earlier this year claimed the provider wanted to use customers' routers to create public hotspots, and had contacted customers about a trial in areas including Reading, Basingstoke, and Marlow.
Virgin Media already offers a Wi-Fi service for mobile customers through its 'Buddy' app for iOS and Android, that helps connect users to more than 150,000 hotspots nationwide.
How would you rate broadbandchoices? Help us improve by writing a review