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Virgin Wi-Fi

Wireless hotspot trials extended

People travelling on Virgin trains from Manchester and Birmingham will now be able to enjoy the benefits of wireless broadband, thanks to a pilot scheme from Broadreach networks.

The scheme has been on trial at London's Euston station since February, providing broadband access to travellers using wireless enabled laptops and PDAs. The ports are located on the station's concourses, cafes and within the first class business lounge.

"Fast and reliable internet access outside the home is what customers want and presents a significant development opportunity in the public internet access market," said Magnus McEwen-King, CEO of Broadreach.

The pilot will be extended to cover Manchester Piccadilly and Birmingham International train stations.

The number of wireless hotspots has increased dramatically over the past year and according to a report from telecoms consultancy firm BWCS, this trend is set to continue. It predicts that more than 20,000 public access points will be in place by 2007 — representing a ten-fold increase over the next four years.

The majority of revenue is expected to come from high-usage sites such as airports and train stations, with the out-of-office worker remaining the main user of Wi-Fi applications.

Unlike the US where independent wireless ISPs have been sprouting up, the report predicts that most hotspots in Europe will be governed by landline telephone suppliers, such as BT which is already well on its way to meeting its target of 4,000 hotspots by 2005.


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