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London Could Soon Get Free Wi-Fi Everywhere

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the have-a-bit-of-internet dept.

The Internet 190

fangmcgee writes "London could soon be covered with a free public WiFi network as Virgin Media moves to challenge BT's Openzone network. Virgin Media's network would be freely available to anyone at 0.5Mbps, and to subscribers to its home broadband at speeds up to a blistering 10Mbps. The proposals would see WiFi routers installed in each of the company's street-side cabinets, which distribute its cable network to homes and businesses."

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190 comments

Future: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982220)

"Free comes with a dick up your ass."

Re:Future: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982478)

Not many 8 Mile fans in here, I take it.

Re:Future: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982612)

I took a ride down 8 Mile awhile back. The wife insisted that we return to the interstate as soon as possible.

Anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982280)

Anonymous is going to have fun with this.

Re:Anonymous (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982366)

Expect many vans, GCHQ tracking and Forward Intelligence Teams to be all over this wonderful "free" gift :)
All the CCTV and databases waiting as you type away, for free, sharing your MAC, ip, passwords, unique browser data and a nice face pic when you look up.
They have your online interests, face, track your car via OCR, your friends with you ... all for free and in the open.
If you make a VoIP call - your voice print too - enjoy your free anonymous laptop use in London.

Re:Anonymous (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982472)

Woke up on the paranoid side of the bed this morning I see. Granted, we are talking about Anonymous and I suppose that they'd pull out all of the stops for that. Then again ... is Anonymous really naive enough to consistently hit the same access points or leave identifying information on their computers? Now I don't know much about Anonymous, but I'm going to assume that they at least did some research on the Anonymous part.

Re:Anonymous (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982584)

Anonymous is anyone who calls himself anonymous. I.e. mostly idiots, like followers of any fad, with a few security conscious individuals sprinkled throughout.

Re:Anonymous (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982608)

So you're basically saying that the police would be doing Anonymous a favour by culling the idiots?

Re:Anonymous (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982664)

"paranoid side of the bed this morning"?
Well lets see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1041011/MI5-launch-spy-sky-UK-manhunt-British-Taliban-fought-Afghanistan.html [dailymail.co.uk] for the interest in voice prints.
http://www.pcpro.co.uk/features/363802/wired-coppers-the-new-technology-behind-old-bill/3 [pcpro.co.uk] Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)/CCTV.
and the http://www.independent.co.uk/news/facerecognition-cctv-launched-1178300.html [independent.co.uk] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4035285.stm [bbc.co.uk] for the joys of tracking your face...
Mix in ideas of the Data Retention Directive, the past skills of the GCHQ, MI5 funding .... you would only need to be seen near one access point.
A laptop user would have to be lucky all the time. A CCTV network only has to be lucky for a few frames...

3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982286)

Looks like Sir Richard Branson is kicking the establishment's ass... AGAIN.

What happened to the USA that WE don't seem to have many people like this anymore? Where are they? Why don't they step up?

Burt Rutan was one. He's retired now. A well-deserved retirement. And I don't think it's a coincidence that he and Branson found each other.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (0)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982344)

Yeah, with testicles! No women allowed, huh?

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982512)

Women may not have testicles, but that doesn't mean they can't have balls!

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982722)

Don't be silly. It's just an expression. If it were worth getting offended over, who should be more offended than me?

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36983178)

an unemployed unich??

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982514)

If it's anything like their ISP service in homes if you so much as dare to read an email during the day they will throttle you for a week.

I'm exaggerating of course but sadly not by much.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983300)

If it's anything like their ISP service in homes if you so much as dare to read an email during the day they will throttle you for a week.

I'm exaggerating of course but sadly not by much.

Thats not true, you can get an unlimited service (at extra cost) and the most basic package has a 200mb limit [virginmedia.com], after which you will be throttled for 12 hours.

If I were to complain about anything it would be the actual unthrottled speed, about 20% of the rated maximum seems typical except early in the morning.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982550)

What happened to the USA that WE don't seem to have many people like this anymore?

We [muniwireless.com] do. [blogspot.com]

True, it's not giving away wifi to a major metro area like New York, but the Google guys don't count as entrepreneurs that kick the establishment's ass and, er, have testicles? Because while Virgin is giving away free internet, and that's nice, Google is giving me free maps and free* e-mail that's much better than the e-mail service I had before.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (0)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982746)

"... but the Google guys don't count as entrepreneurs that kick the establishment's ass and, er, have testicles?"

No, they don't. They count as entrepreneurs who HAD testicles, but who then turned around and BECAME "the establishment". For example, their "Do No Evil" slogan lasted a mere few years until nobody believed it anymore, and they have nobody to blame but themselves.

It isn't inevitable that this would happen, it is a result of their own decisions. They have been victims of their own weight. Although their original ideas were great, they don't seem to have had a new one -- especially an ethical new one -- in a long time.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (2)

jkflying (2190798) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983172)

Ok. I keep hearing about them, but never see any examples. Could you please give a few examples of these actions they've taken that make their "Do No Evil" slogan invalid? Customizing ads based on email content? Facebook starts giving you ads for wedding rings if you've been in a relationship for over a year. Truth to tell, I'd rather have relevant ads, because then I might actually find them useful. The censorship in China? If I remember correctly, Google fought against it long and hard. Eventually they agreed, rather than being booted out of China, and it is the Chinese government that is doing the Great Firewall of China, not Google. Patents? Google doesn't go around threatening to sue little people.

So, what are all these bad things Google has done?

If anything, the real error Google has made is not having a team to cover up all the FUD that the internet tends to spawn...

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982764)

By the way: if you think anything Google gives you is "free", then you don't know how it works.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (2)

jkflying (2190798) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983180)

You install AdBlock Plus in the web browser that Google designed, and those ads disappear. Unless you want to wear tinfoil hats...
Seriously.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982556)

Entrepreneurs usually want to make money, and don't want to lose it. So here's some basic questions that you should ask before praising Branson and bemoaning the lack of free WiFi in your home town:

1) Does the density justify it. Too few people per square mile means that you'll never recover the cost of infrastructure.

2) Are enough people willing to pay. Note the tiered system, that's because someone has to pay for it. Maybe Londoners are more willing to pay than Americans (or even people in other parts of the U.K.).

Branson does NOT want freeloaders, but he may be willing to put up with them to get through bureaucratic hurdles. The people who really matter to him though are the paying customers.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982720)

The best thing is that because it's "free", and because it's advertised to have a relatively low bandwidth, he can probably get away with much less than 0.5 Mbps while at the same time harvesting data for relatively little cost. I mean it's "free" but I expect you'll have to log in or give an email or something... oh and lo and behold, people love to use the same email and usernames for everything...

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (2)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982758)

London is largest metropolitan area by population in the EU

And :
NYC 8,175,133
London 7,825,200

So yes it is worth it ...

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (2)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983126)

London is largest metropolitan area by population in the EU

And :
NYC 8,175,133
London 7,825,200

So yes it is worth it ...

Not just that, Eurostat reckons that London's over 11 million people in size (it's bigger than its official boundaries) and even that is probably an underestimation. (OTOH, NYC is probably bigger than the official 8-and-a-bit million above too.)

Measuring the size of cities is surprisingly difficult.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982786)

Branson has a long history now of nailing it on the head. I would hardly think he hasn't done his research.

That's no guarantee, of course. But the man has some smarts.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982880)

I'm sure that Branson has done his research and there's a good chance that it would work in London or New York. But the original post just said USA.

American cities are notoriously low density. There are maybe three cities with over 500,000 people and a population density greater than London. Cities like New York and London are also relatively rich, so there's a good chance of recovering costs. Most parts of the USA aren't so rich (and I'm guessing the same goes for the UK).

So I'm not questioning what Branson is doing. I'm questioning the people who think that someone should provide free wireless to them without doing their own research to see if it would turn a profit in their area. (And if it wouldn't, are they really entitled to free wireless?)

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983210)

You realise that Branson hasn't had anything to do with Virgin Media for quite a few years? He licenses them the trademark and has nothing more to do with the company (he even sold his shares a long time ago).

The logic behind this is that Virgin has a cable network that basically sits idle during the day. Providing free WiFi is cheap for them, and will provide a lot of advertising. It will cost them about £2m to deploy (their numbers), which is a lot less than a big advertising campaign. If they're providing a public service at a loss, then they can probably offset it against tax, so it becomes even cheaper.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982984)

On 2), they are talking about 0.5Mbps free to anyone, and up to 10Mbps free to their home broadband subscribers. No one is directly paying for it, at least as current envisaged. I imagine one possibility is that they hope this will increase uptake of their broadband service; think of it as an advertising campaign that's actually useful. Also as others have mentioned Virgin Media is nothing to do with Branson, though that doesn't change your main point.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36983266)

Branson does NOT want freeloaders, but he may be willing to put up with them to get through bureaucratic hurdles. The people who really matter to him though are the paying customers.

It's much simpler than that.
People who don't have internet at all will use his service.
People who will have faster internet will now have the choice between getting faster internet from the same service provider or change service provider.
Compare the above scenario with a scenario where the person who wants internet have to choose between Bransons internet and any other service provider.

He gives a away a free but limited sample to bind customers, just like there are plenty of free mail services where you can upgrade to larger storage space or file hosting sites where you are limited to two files/day if you don't register.

Everyone wins but the competition, the tricky part is to set the limited sample to something that is useable but makes the user want to upgrade within a few months.
A bandwidth cap of 57k would probably not have worked today since most user would have found it unusable and felt it necessary to select between multiple providers before they used it enough to think of it as an upgrade.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982752)

Virgin Media isn't actually part of the Virgin group, they just acquired the rights to the name after NTL and Telewest merged a few years ago.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982916)

They're all tied up for the next 30 years in court fighting the zillions of meritless lawsuits from the incumbents whose only "innovators" are in the legal or lobbying departments.

The rest never made it that far and are either in the soup lines after trying or they're busy in their cubicles filling out expense reports and timesheets (in 5 minute intervals) hoping one day they can get the funds together to put their ideas in practice. The venture capitol they need is busy chasing people with empty heads, expensive suits and wallets big enough to buy a few rounds of 6 martini lunches.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

AC-x (735297) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983244)

They're all tied up for the next 30 years in court fighting the zillions of meritless lawsuits from the incumbents whose only "innovators" are in the legal or lobbying departments.

It's not quite that bad in the UK, yet...

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982972)

This has nothing to do with Branson, Virgin Media just licence the name and aren't actually part of the group.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

Rowenas Dad (726276) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982978)

You mean you do not have people who funnel as much of their income as possible offshore to another, tax friendly country in order to pay as little as possible in tax to the exchequer of the country they operate in?

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

Ramble (940291) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982996)

On the contrary Virgin Media is not run by Branson and their service is awful.

Re:3 Cheers for Entrepreneurs with Testicles. (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983006)

Appearances can be deceptive. Branson doesn't actually run a lot of the Virgin companies. The Virgin brand name is licensed out. In the case of Virgin Media, Branson owns 10% in return for the brand name. He's not the one calling the shots there. And if he was, it would be tarnishing his reputation, as Virgin Media has a pretty bad name in the UK.

Wifi "allergies" (1)

zebadee (551743) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982292)

This is really going to test those who are allergic to wifi......who is thinking of the children!

Re:Wifi "allergies" (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982536)

.....who is thinking of the children!

This is, unfortunately, why i think this is going to be free as in beer, but not as in speech. The risk of someone using it for child porn will likely outweigh any other concerns, and "for all" will be limited to "for all who will register and identify themselves before being accepted as a user", not including those unwilling to sign up, transient people who don't have time to sign up (tourists and people in London for a day), and, of course, unregistered immigrants or children.

As for "blazing 10 Mbps", where does the author live that he calls that blazing? Malawi [netindex.com]?

Re:Wifi "allergies" (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983184)

I would consider 10 Mbps to be 'blazing', but that is because I am a Virgin Media customer.

Re:Wifi "allergies" (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983242)

As for "blazing 10 Mbps", where does the author live that he calls that blazing? Malawi [netindex.com]?

Well, your link says that the average for the UK is 10.65Mbps. For free WiFi, the competition is mobile, and the fastest I've seen advertised for mobile Internet is 7.2Mb/s (which probably means a maximum of 2-3Mb/s in real world use) with small caps, so 10Mb/s with no cap is indeed good. My home Internet is 10Mb/s. I can get up to 50Mb/s (100Mb/s being rolled out soon), but there isn't much point at the moment. My last mile is rarely a bottleneck.

Oh, and the plans I read were for 2Mb/s for everyone, 10Mb/s for Virgin Media customers. This makes sense - if they blanket London with free 10Mb/s WiFi then there's little point in having your own Internet connection for a lot of people...

Re:Wifi "allergies" (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983278)

As for "blazing 10 Mbps", where does the author live that he calls that blazing? Malawi [netindex.com]?

Or, according to your own link, any of the other 100 countries (~58% of the list) whose average download speed is less than half of that speed? Only around 19% of the countries on that list have average download speeds of 10Mbps or greater. But yes you're right, 10Mbps in London is probably on the low end of the spectrum. On the other hand, I suspect 10Mbps, to many people living in rural England, or even those in the commuter belt, might be considered "blazingly fast".

Re:Wifi "allergies" (0)

Misagon (1135) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983320)

Those who are over-sensitive to Wifi are probably over-sensitive to cell-phone towers also .. and those have already been all over London for many years.
These people have already been driven off to rural areas where the cell-phone towers are more far between, never able to come back.
These people are not heard, They can not use the same communication mediums as the rest of us, and when they are heard, they are regarded as crazy people.

Just you wait a few decades when the health effects are showing themselves in you and me...

Hope the hardware got better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982310)

I grabbed one of the first first round Virgin MiFi units but wound up returning it after two weeks. It got so bad I couldn't even log in. Their "unlimited" plan had a hardware limitation in that a lot of the first devices were defective. It was also limited to 1.5 Mbps since they were piggy backing on Verizon's network. I wish some one would come up with a decent 10 Mbps system without a cap or at least one that makes sense. 5 gig is nuts and only covers normal surfing with severely limited video clip viewing. I'm guessing half my bandwidth is eaten alive by ads. Thanks guys! Some pages these days force feed you video commercials meaning I get taxed in bandwidth if I want to read the articles. They need to find some way for the advertisers to get charged for the bandwidth. I really hate paying for commercials which is what it amounts to these days.

Re:Hope the hardware got better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982374)

I grabbed one of the first first round Virgin MiFi units but wound up returning it after two weeks. It got so bad I couldn't even log in. Their "unlimited" plan had a hardware limitation in that a lot of the first devices were defective. It was also limited to 1.5 Mbps since they were piggy backing on Verizon's network. I wish some one would come up with a decent 10 Mbps system without a cap or at least one that makes sense. 5 gig is nuts and only covers normal surfing with severely limited video clip viewing. I'm guessing half my bandwidth is eaten alive by ads. Thanks guys! Some pages these days force feed you video commercials meaning I get taxed in bandwidth if I want to read the articles. They need to find some way for the advertisers to get charged for the bandwidth. I really hate paying for commercials which is what it amounts to these days.

This has nothing to do with Virgin's MiFi which is a mobil device using 3g to create a WiFi Hotspot. This is about putting hotspots in cabinets they use to distribute cable to create a Blanket WiFi Network over the entire city. Limited Range / Increased Speeds / Thousands of Hotspots

Blistering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982412)

Slashdot thinks 10Mbps is blistering? Okay then...

Re:Blistering? (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982870)

That was my first thought. It may be blistering for the US. The rest of the first world? Not so much...

Re:Blistering? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983246)

Where do you live that has free municipal Internet (3G or WiFi) that gives you 10Mb/s or faster? 10Mb/s isn't that fast for home Internet - it's what I have, and I'm on the cheapest package - but it's a lot faster than I can get when I go more than a few metres from my house...

Would have been nice... (1)

ctnp (668659) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982438)

Just visited London not too long ago. The availability of basic, open wifi reeked of circa 2006 in the States, only got a usable signal in a McDonalds of all places. A free half a MB/s would have been pleasant.

Re:Would have been nice... (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982570)

Free wifi has kind of gone by the wayside in the UK. It was a nice idea five years ago, when many people used wifi to get online. Most people now have 3G, which is more convenient since you don't need to actually be near somewhere that "does wifi".

Re:Would have been nice... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982740)

Indeed. I was recently in Cambridge, and very surprised to find that the coffee shops which used to give you a wifi password when you bought a drink now have BT OpenZone, so you have to buy minutes.

Re:Would have been nice... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983260)

If you're visiting for more than a couple of days, you can pick up a SIM with 1GB or more of data for about £10 and just stick it in your phone or laptop / dongle. Then you don't need to be near a hotspot to get Internet access.

Another wifi network... (1)

BenJCarter (902199) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982458)

Is there a successful wifi business model besides 'sell people coffee while they surf your LAN Radio Internet Waves'? 'Cause selling standalone wifi waves as a primary source of revenue seems dicey as a profitable way to provide reliable Intertubes. Too much interference...

Re:Another wifi network... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982676)

Lots of people get their internet through a couple of wifi cards plugged in to high gain directional antennas. In fact it's not at all a small industry, and mostly provides service to people that live out in the sticks. You are right though that blanketing an entire city would be plagued by interference troubles, it's bad enough that nobody reconfigures their AP's to run on different channels.

Re:Another wifi network... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983274)

They're not planning on selling it. They have spare capacity on their last mile infrastructure during the day, and they think that letting people use it for free is good PR, and likely to have a better ROI than a more traditional advertising campaign. Especially since Virgin Media customers will get 10Mb/s everywhere, while everyone else gets 0.5Mb/s. This means that there's now a big incentive to use VM for your home broadband if you are out in London a lot...

Public? (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982474)

TFA subhead says "public", but it is actually a privately owned service.

Re:Public? (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982564)

TFA subhead says "public", but it is actually a privately owned service.

Like public houses and public schools, you mean?

Re:Public? (4, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983310)

TFA subhead says "public", but it is actually a privately owned service.

Like public houses and public schools, you mean?

And I've been called a "public nuisance" but nobody owns me.

Re:Public? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36983456)

You must be from a country that calls a liquid 'gas'

Don't believe it 'till you see it. (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982488)

"Free wifi all over town" was all the rage here in California for a few years. Google promised they'd blanket Mountain View in free wifi, San Francisco had a similar deal.

But in the end, the economics didn't work out so well. Google set up hotspots here and there but it was hardly "all over."

It's hard to complain about getting something for free, but don't believe the hype.

Re:Don't believe it 'till you see it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982688)

I was in Helsinki last year. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they have free public WiFi all over town. The difference between that and the Virgin internet is that the Helsinki internet is paid by the city (or tax payers), but Virgin WiFi will be paid by Virgin Media (or their customers). Can't have the socialist approach in the States, I guess!

Re:Don't believe it 'till you see it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36983008)

How do they catch the pedophiles and the terrorists in Helsinki? Surely that is the primary use of public WiFi.

Re:Don't believe it 'till you see it. (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983096)

The summary is wrong. Virgin aren't offering the WiFi free. You either have to be a customer of Virgin Media (cable at home) or Virgin Mobile (cellular) to get the WiFi free. Others will need to subscribe or pay-as-you-go for the WiFI, just as they do for BT OpenZone already.

and London Heathrow? (1)

mrand (147739) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982530)

What are the chances that Boingo (and Heathrow, which surely gets revenue from Boingo) is not going to fight this, after spending the money they have adding wifi to London Heathrow? Anyone know the terms of their agreement (surely it isn't forever)?

Marc

Re:and London Heathrow? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982576)

Heathrow is a long tube ride away from "London" It would be like worrying about the wifi providers at Newark airport if you heard they were putting wifi all over Manhattan.

Re:and London Heathrow? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982736)

I daresay Heathrow is even further than that. It's a good 30 miles if I recall correctly, without looking at google maps.

Re:and London Heathrow? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983056)

No,it's definitely a long tube ride away, in that the Piccadilly line can take you all the way from central London to Heathrow. Takes forever through, hence the motivation for the Heathrow Express train service.

Re:and London Heathrow? (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983268)

I daresay Heathrow is even further than that. It's a good 30 miles if I recall correctly, without looking at google maps.

It's 15 miles from Central London, not 30. Maybe you are thinking of London Gatwick, which is 23 miles out, London Luton at 32 miles out or London Stansted at 40 miles out. Or maybe you caught the tube instead of the mainline rail service, in which case it feels like 30.

Re:and London Heathrow? (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983438)

London Heathrow [goo.gl] Airport is inside the M25 and only around 20 miles from the "centre" of London but, more importantly, Heathrow lies within the London borough of Hillingdon, which may or may not be one of the "London councils" to which the F article alludes. Without knowing whether Virgin media's plan is for the City of London, Inner London, or Outer London, it's hard to say whether or not it will have any affect on Heathrow.

Re:and London Heathrow? (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983232)

Heathrow is a long tube ride away from "London"

It depends what you mean by London. Heathrow is in London, being in the London Borough of Hillingdon. But I suspect Virgin Media are not planning to put the free WiFi all over London, just all over Central London, in which case you're right. I hope they do mean all of London, though, because it would be handy for me here in the London Borough of Bromley, also on the edge of London.

Re:and London Heathrow? (1)

AC-x (735297) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983086)

By "London" I assume they mean central London, and given they'll be installing the equipment in their cable junction boxes I doubt places like Heathrow would be covered anyway.

Speed (4, Informative)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982626)

freely available to anyone at 0.5Mbps

So the same speed as what paying customers receive right now :P

Re:Speed (2)

AC-x (735297) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983030)

Actually credit where credit is due their broadband service has been pretty good for me, I regularly hit 1.5+ meg/sec on my 20mbit line.

Re:Speed (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983362)

I'm on their cheapest 10Mb/s package, and I can easily get 1.1MB/s, which is about 8.8Mb/s. Not quite the advertised speed, but pretty close, especially when you include protocol overhead. Their customer support is horrible, but their network is pretty good.

Not even considering WiFi congestion... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982634)

"Blistering 10Mbps?" Surely that's sarcastic? At least around here where I live standard wired offers on the faster end are 100-200Mbps, and on more limited scale, one gigabit. I pay whopping nine euros per month for 100/10Mbps without traffic caps, and It Just Works. No matter how much someone likes WiFi, 10Mbps isn't "blistering" in any positive sense.

Re:Not even considering WiFi congestion... (2)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982884)

The headline is more than likely directed toward the US demographic, where the only thing higher than about 15Mbps is if you're lucky enough to live in one of the few cities with fiber service.

Re:Not even considering WiFi congestion... (1)

AGMW (594303) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982924)

.. 10Mbps isn't "blistering" in any positive sense.

I'd settle for 10Mbps and, oddly, it's what I pay for from Virgin Media. I do hope all the extra traffic isn't going to even further degrade my bandwidth! That said, getting 10Mbps all across London sounds great!

Next, we want it to be able to pass a connection from POP to POP as we wander around without feeling like it's dropping and re-connecting (just like a mobile phone does) then we lucky Virgin Media people can use skype or somesuch throughout London ... Sur-weet!

Re:Not even considering WiFi congestion... (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983084)

I'm about to pay over $1000 per month for 6M/6M in Australia and it was the cheapest deal at that speed available :(
The Australian dollar is a bit more than the US dollar at this point.

How is this going to work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982782)

It's hardly going to be anonymous free wifi is it? Is that the gambit, an "internet ID"?

Free wifi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982804)

1999 called, it wants it's nodes back.

-Mountain View.

The Philadelphia Story (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982910)

I think Philadelphia was the first major city that attempted to do this, following almost exactly the same model Branson is proposing - a free lower-cost tier, and the option to pay for higher-speed service. This was something like four or five years ago. The city contracted with Earthlink, who got started but quickly realized there was no way this wasn't going to cost them a lot of money.

The linked story doesn't provide any detail at all, other than the fact Virgin plans/hopes to do this - so I'm curious to learn how they think they can do this economically. Branson is many things, but he's not a fool with regards to money. He must know about the failure of the Philadelphia project (as well as others).

Re:The Philadelphia Story (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983426)

First, this has nothing at all to do with Branson. Virgin Media licenses a trademark from him, and that's the extent of his involvement with the company.

They're able to provide this because they have a large consumer last-mile network that is mostly idle during the day. This means that the only cost for them is deploying the access points. The rest of the infrastructure is there already. The free network then serves as an advert for Virgin. If you aren't one of their customers, you get 0.5Mb/s everywhere in London and you're then positively disposed to them for providing a free service. If you are, then you get 10Mb/s everywhere, which gives people in London a strong incentive to switch from BT or other ADSL providers to Virgin for their home Internet connection.

NOTHING is free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36982944)

Has everybody lost their common sense.
NOTHING is free.
The British taxpayer will pay for it one way or the other.
I'm amazed at what passes for economic knowledge these days.

Re:NOTHING is free. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983430)

Nope. Virgin Media will pay for it out of their advertising budget. They figure that providing free (slow) WiFi to everyone and faster free WiFi to their customers is likely to work better than another poster campaign, and will cost about the same amount.

Tourists (2)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#36982968)

This is going to be great for the tourist industry. Being able to advertise that all of London has free wifi will encourage people to visit. I was in Paris recently and trying to find a particular restaurant. I don't have a WAP phone (and if I had I'd be annoyed at the roaming charges) but I has my iPod Touch. I stalked about looking for an unsecured wifi to try load up google maps, and eventually found a McDonalds free hotspot. If what Virgin is planning to offer had been available I'd be able to open my maps anywhere and follow it right to my destination. Add to that Skype/Google voice, email, web searching etc. and it will boost London's attractiveness for tourists.

Re:Tourists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36983036)

Paris actually has public (i.e. run by the town hall) wifi. Not universal coverage with around 400 access points across the 20 central arrondissements.
They're in places like parks and libraries. Not sure that they are aiming at tourists though as I can only find the page in French.
http://www.paris.fr/pratique/paris-wi-fi/localisation-des-points-wi-fi/rub_7799_stand_29274_port_17981

Cool just like San Francisco a few years ago! (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983062)

Remember how San Francisco announced it was getting free WiFi everywhere?
How did that go?
It was years ago so all you people in SF must just be taking your free WiFi for granted now right?

Actually this time it might just work because it's not being implemented by a completely useless bastard that uses the threat of jail time to solve minor employee management problems.

BTOpenzone was a Wi-Fi network? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36983100)

I'm pretty sure BTOpenzone was only ever an elaborate piece of performance art anyway. Complete work of fiction for all I could ever connect to it.

Low expectations (1)

polyp2000 (444682) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983122)

I am (unforuntately) a subscriber in North London to Virgin Medias Cable service (over fibre).
Considering there inabilty to deliver anywhere near my expectations of 20mb i pay through the roof for. (sometimes its as slow as dialup).
I dont hold much hope for them delivering this kind of service.

The trouble right now in the UK is we only have one cable service provider able to deliver very high speeds. Virgin Media
basically have a monopoly on Cable. Virgin were brilliant when i lived north of the Midlands but here I could not recommend
anyone waste their money on their over priced - under-delivered services.

Some other company really ought to roll out a competing cable network in the UK just to give them some incentive to
sort there service out. Sorry Richard Branson but you've really dissappointed me on this occaision

N...

Love the idea - will believe it when I see it! (1)

shic (309152) | more than 2 years ago | (#36983292)

I've been thinking about reliability of connectivity quite a bit recently... Using a 3G dongle as a backup is one option - but with this option attracting either a noticable monthly charge or requiring a pre-pay to be renewed every 1 or 3 months... it is a bit frustrating... for a service I hope I never need to use. I'm currently wavering on the brink of taking the plunge - the clincher will be if I find time to convince myself that I can configure automatic fail-over satisfactorily.

The first interesting idea that springs to mind is this: if 0.5mb/s is free, what's stopping me buying N wi-fi dongles and channel-bonding their connections to give a ~N/2 mb/s connection, also for free?

Another interesting idea is that if Virgin had this service when I moved in, they'd have me as a customer... The way things actually panned out, I paid a deposit - they jerked me about and gave me absolutely no clue when I'd be given service - so I told them to sling-their-hook and went with Sky (who proved similarly useless - but eventually provided a DSL line.)

The real losers will surely be the telephone companies. Why bother with a pay-go mobile for texts if you can be connected to the web at 0.5mbps everywhere you go?

Don't trust Virgin - they've got Phorm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36983384)

nothing more to say.

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