Birmingham set for free city-centre Wi-Fi after deal with Virgin Media Business

Free public Wi-Fi across Birmingham city centre is set to launch following a deal between Birmingham City Council and Virgin Media Business.

Deal: Virgin Media Business will provide the technology

A roll-out of the service will begin in September after the city's wireless concession was awarded to Virgin Media Business. Victoria Square, New Street, High Street, St Philip's Cathedral, Moor Street and the plaza in front of the new library of Birmingham will be among the first areas to benefit.

The wireless connection is expected to be strong enough to support video streaming and online gaming, while Virgin Media Business will offer access to 'small cells' base stations for mobile operators in the city, which allows them to target specific areas for increased mobile coverage.

Trials for the small cell technology will begin next year.

Director of wireless at Virgin Media Business, Kevin Baughan, said: "By enabling the deployment of small cell technologies, we're transforming the mobile broadband experience and ensuring that Birmingham stays on the leading edge of digital connectivity."

Councillor James McKay of Birmingham City Council added that boosted 3G and 4G coverage would encourage better business competition and said the council was keen to embrace modern technologies.

"This project will dramatically accelerate mobile broadband investment in the city," he said. "It will bring enhanced high-speed mobile broadband coverage for more people and the free Virgin Media Business Wi-Fi zone in the city centre will help bridge the digital divide for those who are otherwise unable to access such services."

The move forms part of the government's wider Super Connected Cities strategy to boost online connectivity.

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