Wi-Fi is everywhere nowadays – on laptops, home PCs, people’s smart phones and now, yes, even the London Underground. Well, while you’re down there on the Tube it’s accessible via your handheld device, at least. But how exactly do you connect with it and how much does it cost?
The answer to the first question is it’s very easy and the answer to the second is nothing at all, provided you’re already signed up to a deal with one of the major UK Broadband and mobile providers. Launched in time for the London Olympics in summer 2012, Virgin Media’s Tube Wi-Fi network remains the Underground’s go-to service for commuters and passengers today – ensuring that it’s available at (and between) 150 Tube stations.
And because Virgin Media have struck deals with the other major networks, it’s free whichever you’re with – again, as mentioned, so long as you belong to one of them. This means that Wi-Fi access on the Tube doesn’t cost a penny for customers of O2, Three, Vodafone,EE and Virgin Media.
Making sure you’re connected isn’t too complicated a process – although you’ll need to check with your own network for the specific details. Actually physically accessing Virgin’s Wi-Fi service while below-ground involves coming face to face with a holding page, which (should you be with one of the big providers) will allow you to log in bytapping on your provider’s logo, after which you’ll be sent to their individual section where you’ll most likely be asked for your mobile number and a relevant PIN code.
But what if you’re not with one of the major networks? What if you’re a tourist – visiting one of the best hotels in Westend London – and not even from Britain, so with a non-UK centric Internet provider? Well, here’s where something of a catch comes in… you won’t get free Wi-Fi on the Tube because you’ll have to pay for access. First, you’ll have to register on Virgin Media’s dedicated web page and then buy a daily, weekly or monthly pass. Like the options, the price ranges, however, are simple and far from extortionate – it costs £2 for a day, £5 for a week and £15 for a month.
It should be noted that in the past Virgin Media has made available a two-month pass for £15, but that has been on a ‘special basis’; whether that will be running at all when you’re planning on visiting and travelling in London is an unknown quantity, but you never know – so it’s well worth taking a look around on their website; you never know what deal you might actually find there.
Irrespective of what network you belong to (or not at all) and whether you’ve connected free or otherwise, once you’re down there, you’ll be able to access Virgin Media’s Tube Wi-Fi portal anyway. What’s the point of that if you can’t access the Internet, you might ask? Because it offers useful information such as the latest travel updates – which is handy because that’s surely the most useful thing you could actually find out from the ’Net while on the Tube,let’s face it.
All the same, the London public transport network isn’t just about the Tube, of course (dominant though it may be), so you may be interested to learn that you can also access Wi-Fi at – and between – more than 50 Overground stations thanks to a deal Transport for London (TfL) has struck with BskyB’s The Cloud service.