Virgin Media To Share Customers Wifi, Bandwidth For The Greater Good
It seems like forever ago that Virgin Media announced it was creating a Wifi network to compete with BT's. Now it has started to slip more details about how the network will be built and it offers some challenging premises that should not be the subject of a knee-jerk rejection.
Virgin will be deploying its own network hardware up and down the country, but by far the largest part of its new network will be created by sharing access to its customer's wireless networks.
The connection will be provided via a separate SSID which bypasses the customer's own network and uses segregated bandwidth on the customer's fibre connection. In return for allowing their connection to be used in this way Virgin Media customers will get access to a 10Mb/s wireless connection whenever they are in range of another user's access point. Other users will only get access to a 500Mb/s connection.
For Virgin Media customers the trade off is excellent, especially if the work is done to provide hotspots in non-residential areas, where the biggest holes in the network are likely to be.
Even users who aren't Virgin Media customers get a pretty good deal - that 500Mb/s connection isn't too shabby when measured against mobile broadband's congested speeds.
The only real question is going to be how confident are Virgin in the security of the router providing the separated connections? Because if it proves possible to traverse the air gap between the customer's private and Virgin's public network it will turn into the biggest data security nightmare ever.