The new high performance wireless services will be operated by Global Reach, using Virgin Media’s fibre optic network. It is estimated that 1.2 million people will have access to the new networks across both cities.
The new service is currently due to go live before the end of 2012, with the first areas to ‘go live’ being Bridge Street in Bradford and Briggate in Leeds. The first upgrades in 2013 have been pencilled in to include Bradford’s City Park and Leeds’ Millennium Square.
New wirless technology known as ‘small cell’, will be behind the new hotspots. A series of trials have been held across the UK using small cell architectures, which have proved to provide faster connections to both 3G and 4G networks.
Kevin Baughan, director of wireless at Virgin Media commented: “In Leeds and Bradford, we’re working with both the local authorities and mobile operators to put in place the infrastructure that will give residents, consumers and businesses access to the wireless connectivity that they need.”
“These projects in Leeds and Bradford are an important step towards making the vision of super-connected cities a reality and enabling future prosperity and innovation.”
Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said: “I’m delighted our citizens, visitors and businesses will be among the first in the country to benefit from a free, fast, accessible city centre Wi-Fi service. Leeds is leading the way in ensuring that our infrastructure is in place to make the most of future digital developments and we are pleased that Bradford is also supporting the regional push for super-fast broadband”.