Why WiFi Must Bridge the Gap to 4G

August 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

As 3G networks continue to falter the aged WiFi hotspot looks set for a bigger role than expected.

Why WiFi Must Bridge the Gap to 4G

  • By Gordon Kelly
  • 05 August 2011

Last month we asked What’s Really Wrong With UK 3G Broadband? This month its shortcomings are being highlighted once again as Virgin Media announces its vision to install city wide free WiFi

The backdrop is simple. On Wednesday Virgin confirmed it is in “quite advanced negotiations” with London councils to equip the UK capital with blanket WiFi in the “not too distant future”. Unlike rivals such as BT Openzone and The Cloud, Virgin would make the service free. Virgin customers get access speeds of up to 10Mbit, non-Virgin customers get 0.5Mbit.

Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett described the plans as “a punt” which will cost the company “a few million pounds” and “keep them [BT] honest”. In truth the strategy is far more than turning up late to the party. Instead it is a potential masterstroke by Virgin to cash in on the deep routed flaws in the UK’s 3G network. The move comes down to two things: speed and timing.

Virgin Media has speed to burn. Its expensively assembled optical cable network consistently outperforms rivals and its customer base is spending ever more. The problem is the number of Virgin customers is falling and it needs a differentiator to not only woo them back, but win favour with the masses. This is where timing is crucial because it determines the target and right now there is no easier dead horse to beat than 3G… READ ON

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