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Chesham pilots UK’s first Smart WiFi Pavement with Virgin Media

Chesham pilots UK’s first Smart WiFi Pavement with Virgin Media
  • Chiltern District Council paves the way for the future of UK WiFi with Virgin Media
  • First public WiFi under your feet
  • Residents will be able to ‘Streetsurf’ with ultrafast out-of-home internet experience – Strictly or Gogglebox at the bus stop in 30 seconds
  • First in a series of initiatives to deliver better out-of-home connectivity from Virgin Media

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Chiltern District Council and Virgin Media have joined forces to blanket Chesham’s high street with superfast WiFi. The unlimited WiFi service is available  to residents, businesses and visitors passing through the centre of Chesham; the service even covers parts of Lowndes Park – Chesham’s 36 acre park space.

The new network can provide speeds of up to 166Mbps, seven times the average UK broadband speed* and will be delivered using cutting edge technology with connectivity delivered directly from Virgin Media’s street cabinets and the UK’s first ever Smart Pavement. 

Users will easily be able to connect by selecting “Virgin Media  WiFi” within the WiFi settings on their device. Virgin Media mobile customers with an Android device will be able access it seamlessly through the Virgin Media WiFi Buddy app. The pilot is available to all 21,000 residents and businesses of Chesham.

Cllr Fred Wilson, Chiltern District Council’s Cabinet member for Customer Services and Chesham Town Councillor, said: "I am delighted that we’ve been able to bring a UK first to Chesham with Virgin Media’s ultrafast WiFi, helping local people and businesses get online. Efficient connectivity is pivotal to running businesses today and I am proud we are part of a project which is crossing new boundaries.”

The Rt Hon Cheryl Gillan MP, said: “The internet is at the heart of modern life and it is brilliant to have such a cutting edge network in Chesham and to be right at the vanguard of connectivity in the UK. It will keep the community connected, help Chesham people save some money on their mobile bill and could be a key piece of the jigsaw in connected cities moving forward.”

Martin Parkes, local business owner and spokesperson for The Better Chesham Group, said: "It’s great that our customers have access to Virgin Media’s public Wi-Fi both in and outside our salon. We're a very unique high street with many independent shops so we don't have the IT infrastructure that big chains benefit from. This will hugely help levelling the playing field and will hopefully bring more people to Chesham too."

Virgin Media choose to work with Chiltern District Council and Chesham in particular as the local authority is innovative and actively engaged with the local people in trying to find ways to enhance the  area for both residents and businesses. Chesham is demographically representative of the UK population as a whole and is of a size that allows a quick deployment of services across the whole town, rather than specific locations.  In addition, there is a significant presence of independent businesses in the town centre that allow for local level discussions when piloting new ideas and technology.

Virgin Media is building better digital infrastructure by re-drawing the UK WiFi map. It is the first in a series of initiatives to deliver better out-of-home connectivity. It is not just about extending the company’s ultrafast network to more homes and upgrading speeds to Vivid 200Mbps but being the defacto provider of trusted connectivity both in the home and out of the home.

Gregor McNeil, Managing Director of Consumer at Virgin Media said: “Not only is this the first time we’ve built metropolitan WiFi directly from our street cabinets, it is also the UK’s first deployment of a WiFi connected pavement. It is literally public WiFi under your feet. We want to build more networks like this across the UK and encourage more forward thinking councils just like Chesham to get in touch.”

Fast Facts About Virgin Media’s Outdoor WiFi Service in Chesham

  • Residents are already reporting impressive wireless speeds as fast as 166Mbps in the town centre.
  • Local people can download an episode of Coronation Street, Strictly Come Dancing or Gogglebox at the Bus Stop with a download speed of less than 35 seconds assuming a file size of 634Mb
  • The new pilot offers street wide coverage using variety of discreet street furniture such as the UK’s first Smart Pavement, which connects directly to Virgin Media’s fibre network and provides ultrafast WiFi via a submerged access point beneath a specially developed resin cover.
  • Rainproof access points use a mixture of the latest tech including fibre optic cabling and superior DOCSIS 3 technology.
  • This ultrafast WiFi is possible even at distances of up to 80m from Virgin Media’s high street cabinets.
  • Out-of-home WiFi can save users money on their mobile phone bills by reducing the amount of mobile data they us when out and about in town.
  • Chesham has a population of over 21,000 with many residential areas, businesses, industrial centres and a pedestrianised High Street featuring numerous specialist individual shops, alongside national retailers.

Virgin Media is investing heavily in its ultrafast network to meet consumer demand.  Data usage on the Virgin Media network is currently growing at a rate of 60% every year and if the trend continues data usage will be 10,000% higher by 2025.  The company has also embarked on a £3 billion programme to connect four million more homes and businesses to ultrafast broadband speeds

Chesham residents and business who want Virgin Media to extend its ultrafast cable network to their home or business can register their interest at virginmedia.com/cablemystreet.

Notes to editors

*As reported by OFCOM February 2015

About Virgin Media

Virgin Media offers four multi award-winning services across the UK and Ireland: broadband, TV, mobile phone and landline.

The company’s dedicated, ultrafast network delivers the fastest widely available broadband speeds to homes and businesses. And we’re expanding this through our £3bn Project Lightning programme, which will reach 17 million premises.

Our interactive TV service brings live programmes, thousands of hours of on-demand programming and the best apps and games in a set-top box, as well as on-the-go for tablets and smartphones.

We launched the world’s first virtual mobile network, offering fantastic value and services to customers. We are also one of the largest fixed-line home phone providers in the UK and Ireland.

Through Virgin Media Business we support entrepreneurs, businesses and the public sector, delivering the fastest widely available broadband speeds and tailor-made services.

Virgin Media is part of Liberty Global, the world’s largest international cable company. Together Virgin Media and Liberty Global serve 27 million customers across 14 countries.