Virgin looks to fight way through Wi-Fi overcrowding

10.49 Europe/London, December 5, 2011 By Julian Clover

Virgin Media is exploring ways of using part of the 4G spectrum, slated to be auctioned by Ofcom next years, as a means to improve in home Wi-Fi reception.

The operator is lobbying the regulator to set aside part of the 2.6 GHz spectrum for use by femtocells that could be harnessed by the cable network within the home. Other uses would include students’ halls of residence where incoming bandwidth can be dramatically reduced through wireless interference.
“People are increasingly connecting more devices wirelessly to the internet so it is important this doesn’t become a capacity bottleneck in future,” a Virgin Media spokesman told Broadband TV News. “In order to maximise the value of what is limited spectrum, short-range low powered frequencies could be used to ensure localised areas of high demand are satisfied. These frequencies could be shared by companies beyond just the mobile network operators such that consumers will benefit most from greater innovation and a better quality wireless internet experience.”
Virgin is understood to be looking at a number of options, but is keen to be part of an industry-wide consensus to deal with the issue.
In the UK, Vodafone has been a significant user of femtocell technology to improve in home mobile reception. More recently it has been involved in trials that use femtocells to improve mobile broadband.