Virgin examining options for next-gen wireless broadband service

23 Jan 2012

UK cableco Virgin Media has reportedly carried out trials of next-generation mobile services using transmitters connected to its fibre network, the Financial Times reports. It is understood that the operator, which is the second largest British broadband provider by subscribers, is examining the prospect of launching a nationwide wireless broadband service using transmitters that function in a similar fashion to Wi-Fi technology. Virgin carried out trials of the technology in Oxford Street last month, using spectrum it was granted access to via a trial license issued by telecoms regulator Ofcom; unlike Wi-Fi, this technology requires licensed spectrum to operate.

With licensed frequencies being necessary for the commercial rollout of the technology, it is believed that Virgin is considering a bid for spectrum which is expected to be auctioned before the end of the year. It is thought that the cableco will seek to acquire frequencies in the 2.6GHz band, rather than the more sought after 800MHz band. However, as well as considering the possibility of purchasing its own spectrum the report also suggests that Virgin has entered into talks with the country’s main mobile operators regarding the possibility of forming a joint venture under which it might utilise frequencies already owned by those companies. Such a deal, it is thought, could see Virgin offering reciprocal access to its hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) network.

Commenting on the consideration of the new wireless technology, Kevin Baughan, director of wireless at Virgin Media, noted: ‘This wireless solution fits so well with our fibre network which covers most major cities. We are interested in working with Wi-Fi as well as licensed spectrum. It provides capacity to where people need it the most.’

United Kingdom, Virgin Media