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Virgin plots super-fast wireless broadband

Virgin Media BoltVirgin could launch a high speed wireless broadband service six times faster than 3G, backed linked to its fibre-optic broadband backbone.

The cable company has just completed a private trial of the service in central London and later this year may bid for frequencies to run a commercial service.

The technology uses short-range transmitters similar to WiFi which can supply very high data rates, connected directly to Virgin’s cable network.

The Financial Times quotes Kevin Baughan, director of wireless at Virgin Media: “This wireless solution fits so well with our fibre network which covers most cities.”

Virgin is considering whether to bid for mobile frequencies being auctioned by the government later this year, or to tie up with an existing mobile phone operator.

Virgin’s high speed wireless would be restricted to urban areas covered by its fibre-optic network, so it would need a partner to cover the whole of the UK.

Vodafone has run trials of a similar concept, using phone lines to create wireless broadband cells in rural villages, hosted by community hubs like pubs and libraries.