Virgin Media has entered into an agreement to acquire Arqiva WiFi from Arqiva Group. Once the acquisition is complete, Virgin Media will add more 31,000 Wi-Fi access points across 6,500 locations in the UK. A hundred employees from Arqiva WiFi will also become part of Virgin Media Business.
Peter Kelly, Managing Director of Virgin Media Business, said:
“Millions of homes and businesses across the country already rely on Virgin Media for ultrafast broadband. By complementing our existing offer with the acquisition of one of the UK's biggest and best public WiFi providers we'll soon be able to expand the same high quality connectivity outdoors. In today's digital age connectivity matters, whether you are at home, at work or on the go. I look forward to welcoming the Arqiva WiFi team to Virgin Media.”
The acquisition will add to Virgin Media's other attempts to enter the public Wi-Fi network scene. The company currently offers ultrafast connectivity to 250 stations on the London Underground which sees about half a million phones, tablets, and laptops connect to it every day. Aside from its network on the underground, the ISP has trialed the use of the UK's first 'Smart Pavement' to deliver “superfast” public WiFi.
Public Wi-Fi hotspots have been around for a while in the UK. BT has a massive amount of public Wi-Fi hotspots (requires BT membership or payment), and Sky's Cloud Wi-Fi network is present in many pubs. Public transport is also beginning to offer free Wi-Fi; Manchester city recently unveiled its first smart bus shelters that offer free WiFi and wireless charging.