Virgin Media Business has launched free unlimited public WiFi in Birmingham’s city centre.
WiFi points no bigger than shoeboxes have been attached to lamp posts and other so-called items of ‘street furniture’ across the city centre.
Residents and visitors will be able to connect to the hotspots, called ‘_Bham Free WiFi’ between Victoria Square and Moor Street.
Further access points are already being deployed across Navigation Street, High Street, Broad Street, Bennetts Hill and the area around the Cathedral, with the last few hot spots due to be installed in the coming weeks.
Read Recombu Digital’s guide to Super-Connected Cities and the Urban Broadband FundDuncan Higgins, director of marketing at Virgin Media Business, describes Birmingham as a prototype for the Super Connected Cities plan, which will see 22 of the UK’s biggest cities benefit from free WiFi in busy areas.
Higgins said: “This exciting new technology has the potential to supercharge people’s internet services with a capacity to match the growing number of smart devices.
Councillor James McKay, cabinet member for a green, safe and smart city, Birmingham City Council, added: “We’re delighted to be able to offer this unrivalled connectivity in some the best-loved spaces in the city, particularly as more visitors arrive in the coming weeks to enjoy the Frankfurt Christmas Market and other festive celebrations.
“This announcement builds on our connectivity plans for the city which aim to ensure that our citizens and businesses have access to the highest quality and affordable internet services, and establishes Birmingham as the best connected city in the UK”.
Super Connected Cities is a £150 million government project that’s being used to fund the set up of extensive public WiFi networks as well as voucher schemes for local businesses who want to get a discount on the price of installing superfast broadband.
Virgin Media Business won the contract to bring WiFi to Birmingham back in July and began setting up the service in September. Now the project is nearing completion, just in time for the Christmas rush.
The free Wi-Fi service is operated for Virgin Media Business by its partner Global Reach Technology Ltd and makes use of Virgin Media’s fibre optic backhaul. As well as providing the backbone for free WiFi, Virgin Media Business is also keen on inviting mobile network operators to use the access points as 3G and 4G transmitters, improving coverage for customers throughout the city.