Virgin Media is planning to rent out its Wi-Fi network after the London 2012 Olympic Games has finished.
The Wi-Fi network, which is rolling out now, is currently free to be used by anyone. However once the games are over, only Virgin Media broadband subscribers will be able to patch in.
Customers of other ISPs might also be able to access Wi-Fi on the Tube if an agreement is reached; according to the FT, invites to have been sent out to rival ISPs including BT and TalkTalk and mobile operators including O2 and Vodafone.
Virgin Media becomes a mini Openreach for the Tube
Virgin Media is in a nutshell creating a mini BT Openreach for its Tube network, which will encompass 120 tube stations by the end of the year. Check out Recombu Digital’s map to see which stations will get Wi-Fi.
Cash from other ISPs will “continue to fund the growth of the infrastructure,” according to Virgin Media chief operating officer Andrew Barron: “There will be substantial funding implications... We expect capacity to exceed the infrastructure capabilities.”
BT, O2 and Sky in particular might be interested in doing the deal to compliment their above-ground Wi-Fi networks. The Cloud is free to all customers in most venues for a limited period. Sky Broadband customers can get unlimited access to the Wi-Fi network.
Sky seems intent on prioritising its network for TV customers accessing catch up telly on the move, so this might not change.
Updated on 25/06/2012 to clarify that The Cloud is open to everyone but it only free to Sky Broadband subscribers.