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Virgin Media's free public Wi-Fi initiative delayed to 2016

Katharine Byrne
26 Oct 2015
Virgin Media broadband advert with Richard Branson and Usain Bolt
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Virgin Media cites customer experience concerns as main reason behind the delay of its free public Wi-Fi scheme

Virgin Media has delayed the launch of its free public Wi-Fi initiative until 2016. The scheme, which planned to harness customers' Super Hub and Super Hub 2 routers as Wi-Fi hotspots, would have allowed users to get online without eating into their mobile data when they're on the move, but a Virgin Media spokesperson has since confirmed to me that the company has put its public launch on hold. 

"We’re still committed to building a best-in-class public WiFi network," Virgin Media said in a statement to Expert Reviews. "Our plans for Virgin Media WiFi are ambitious, including some network innovations and partnerships to bring access to hotspots in places such as pubs, airports and more.

"Creating a good customer experience is often a lengthy and difficult process. In order to deliver the level of customer experience Virgin Media is renowned for, we have decided to extend the beta trial and push back launch into 2016. This has meant that we have reverted to the original firmware to ensure there is minimal impact on customers. We are in trial in Reading with some changes to network (and continue to monitor this closely) to test and improve the service until it meets our quality standards before launch.”

Originally due to launch this autumn, the scheme would have enabled hundreds of Super Hubs to create new Virgin Media Wi-Fi areas across the UK, including city centres, airports and the streets near your home. It's a similar idea to BT FON, which currently lets BT customers get online by using a small portion of other BT members' BT Home Hub or wireless router's bandwidth to turn it into a BT wireless hotspot. Like BT FON, Virgin Media Wi-Fi planned to use a separate connection to your own personal Super Hub, so customers needn't worry about strangers hijacking their network or slowing down their streaming speeds.

However, despite the scheme's extended beta trial, some customers are reporting that their Super Hub 2s are still broadcasting an SSID for the public Wi-Fi hotspot despite Virgin pulling its new firmware update. The only problem is that they cannot connect to it, regardless of whether they're in or out of doors. If this is the case with your Super Hub 2, we suggest you restore it to router's factory settings. This should remove the hotspot SSID from your network list. 

 

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