Virgin's underground Wi-Fi network, which stretches to platforms at 72 London Tube stations, will start charging from January: but customers on the right network will continue to get a free ride.
EE and Vodafone have signed up to have Virgin connect their customers for free, with Virgin Media customers (broadband and/or mobile) also connecting without charge. Everyone else will have to cough up at least £2 a day for some underground connectivity.
Virgin scored the exclusive coverage, basically by providing free connectivity during the Olympic games. We're told that more than 700,000 travellers have made use of it. The coverage only extends down the platforms, not onto the trains which are squeezed into tunnels barely large enough to fit the additional infrastructure which would be needed - if there were a commercial reason to try.
Connectivity on the platforms enabled Boris Johnson to claim he'd done it, even if "it" wasn't the cellular coverage he was originally hoping for, and now Virgin will be looking to make that investment pay.
Another 48 stations will be added to the network by year's end, and anyone signed up with Orange, T-Mobile, EE or Vodafone will be able to connect after then by registering. Other users (and tourists) will have to buy "daily, weekly and monthly passes starting from £2 per day" if they want to stay connected.
There will be a free service, available to all, but that will lead only to a walled garden maintained by Transport for London. ®