|Well we all knew that it would be coming. London’s freebie ends and so tube users will have to pay for their wireless. Is this just shortsighted commercial thinking? I think so…|
Most mobile users in the UK will have to pay careful attention to which mobile operator’s services they subscribe to if they still want free Wi-Fi services on the London Underground next year.
Virgin Media has announced that it will start charging £2 for one day’s Wi-Fi access on the underground train service in the UK capital, while a weekly pass will cost £5 and a monthly pass £15.
Nevertheless, it seems that only O2 UK and 3 UK users will be subjected to these charges: Virgin Media customers will still be able to get free Wi-Fi on the Tube, as will customers of EE and Vodafone after the two mobile operators signed deals with Virgin Media to become wholesale partners.
Virgin switched on the underground wireless connectivity service ahead of the London Olympics this summer and extended universal free access until early 2013. The Register noted that more than 700,000 travellers have made use of the service, but pointed out that connectivity is only available on the platforms and not on the trains themselves.
According to TechRadar, Wi-Fi is available on the platforms of 72 tube stations at present, and will be coming to a further 20 stations in December 2012 and another 28 in early 2013.
The next 20 stations are Oval, Holloway Road, Clapham Common, Chalk Farm, Bounds Green, Mornington Crescent, Hampstead, Lancaster Gate, South Kensington, Notting Hill Gate, Belsize Park, Russell Square, Balham, Camden Town, Finsbury Park, Highgate, Seven Sisters, Swiss Cottage, Turnpike Lane and Wood Green.
Virgin Media recently discarded plans to bid for UK LTE spectrum, instead focusing on building a nationwide Wi-Fi and small cell network that would be marketed to UK operators on a wholesale basis.
It’s interesting to think about what might happen if town centres / villages / shopping centres starting to ‘give away’ free wifi – perhaps even giving it away only if you shopped there after an hour, or if you did something for the community? Facebook is rumored to looking into doing this i.e. giving away free wifi in retailers for just a checkin or two off your mobile. It’s all about location people and connection – so why are operators still not getting it?