Virgin Media wins London Underground WiFi contract, provides conduit for tube station tweets

Remember the ten dozen WiFi hotspots London's underground said it was prepping ahead of the 2012 Olympic games? Virgin Media says they'll be free -- at least to start. By the time July rolls around, 80 stations will be rocking that sweet, sweet internet, and an additional 40 tube stops will go live by the end of the year. The service will be gratis during the summer, Virgin's press release explains, but will eventually join the outfit's broadband and mobile subscription network -- doling out only basic travel information and a pay-as-you-go option to the unsubscribed. Just make sure you finish Facebooking before your train arrives -- the tubes themselves are as dark as ever. Read on for Virgin Media's official press release.

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London Mayor announces digital first as Virgin Media selected to offer Wi-Fi on Tube stations

Free Wi-Fi service for millions of commuters and visitors during summer 2012

The Mayor of London today confirmed that Londoners will be able to use Wi-Fi to access mobile internet services at Tube stations for the first time from this summer. A contract has been awarded to Virgin Media to provide public access Wi-Fi at up to 120 Tube station platforms at zero cost to the fare or taxpayer.

The new Wi-Fi service will launch as a free, unlimited service for all Tube passengers from summer 2012 and will continue to offer free live TfL travel information via a new online portal after this period.

Virgin Media, in partnership with London Underground, will introduce Wi-Fi at over 80 stations ahead of the summer. By the end of 2012, up to 120 Tube stations, many of them deep-level, will be connected.

From July 2012, all Tube passengers will be able to connect to the internet at stations for free, enabling millions of commuters and visitors to access websites and online destinations and stay up-to-date with news and events listings, review the best spots for lunch and discover great London attractions from their mobile phones, tablets, laptops and other connected devices. Following this period, Wi-Fi at Tube stations will be made available as part of Virgin Media's broadband and mobile subscriptions and all Tube passengers will be able to stay up-to-date with travel information thanks to the free online portal. Full Internet access via Wi-Fi will become available via Pay-As-You-Go and other commercial models.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: "It's vital that we harness the massive opportunities stemming from the digital revolution, by creating a vibrant, world class industry to attract investment and create jobs for Londoners. Millions of passengers will now be able to connect to their work, friends or access the latest news and travel information whilst on the move. This is a fabulous new and free resource which will be in place from this summer when London is being showcased on a global stage and playing host to millions."

Gareth Powell, LU's Director of Strategy and Service Development, said: "We're upgrading the Tube to make it fit for the 21st Century. This latest innovation is great news for Tube customers, who now have access to emails, web and social media underground for the first time. It's also delivered at no cost to fare payers and taxpayers.

"Today, TfL provides a wealth of free live travel information, via our website and through the many excellent travel apps now available. Wi-Fi on the Tube means our customers can now get the latest live travel information and check how services are running, on the move and underground, where and when they need it."

Neil Berkett, CEO, Virgin Media, said: "With the eyes of the world on London this summer, we'll be showing off our capital as a leading connected city on the global stage. We're putting the power of Virgin Media's fibre optic network in the hands of millions of Londoners, commuters and visitors and are delighted to be launching Wi-Fi for free throughout summer 2012 and beyond. We'll help people make the most of the city and will continue to evolve the service, ensuring everyone can benefit from a service London will be proud of."

Ian Merricks, Accelerator Academy Co-founder and White Horse Capital Managing Partner said: "We entered the early stage entrepreneurial ecosystem last year, creating the Accelerator Academy for emerging entrepreneurs. WE saw the growth potential of London's tech entrepreneurs and working with investors we now hope to deploy £35m to help these firms grow."