Birmingham’s free wifi scheme with Virgin launches

Posted by Richard Williams, Digital Districts Programme Manager

Exciting news with the announcement that Birmingham City Council and Virgin Media Business are set to launch free public Wi-Fi across key parts of the city centre.

Tom Mockridge, CEO of Virgin Media & Cllr. James McKay, Cabinet Member for a Green, Safe & Smart City marks the launch of the partnership between the two organisations to improve 3G and 4G coverage in the city (Photo courtesy BCC Newsroom)

After lengthy and detailed negotiations, Birmingham’s wireless concession has been awarded to Virgin Media Business and forms part of a plan by the Council to boost connectivity across the area, stimulating growth and tackling digital inclusion for over a million citizens.

The easy to use Wi-Fi service will roll out for citizens and visitors to Birmingham from September and will be completely free of charge. There will be no usage limits so people can use the service for as long as they need to and will support high bandwidth services like video streaming or online gaming. Some of the initial areas to benefit from this high performance WiFi service include: Victoria Square, New Street, Moor Street, High Street, St Philip’s Cathedral and the plaza in front of the new Library of Birmingham

Whilst the Wi-Fi network is what people will initially notice, the concession will also allow Virgin Media Business to offer their ground-breaking hosting service to Mobile Operators so that they will be able to use small cells in order to supercharge their wireless networks. Small cells are miniature base stations that allow Mobile Operators to precisely target where additional coverage and capacity is required.. By combining access to the City’s street columns with Virgin Media Business extensive fibre network, Birmingham will be ready to lead the race in the rollout of the latest wireless technologies.

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