Virgin Media Wi-Fi
Request ID: FOI-0937-1920
Date published: 25 July 2019
How much money did TfL receive from Virgin Media Limited or any other company to arrange that Wi-Fi on the London underground would be provided for free to customers of Virgin Media and partnering companies, while being subsidised by everyone else.
TfL Ref: FOI-0937-1920
Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 1st July 2019 asking for information about the provision of WiFi on the London Underground.
Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy.
Specifically you asked:
“How much money did TfL receive from Virgin Media Limited or any other company to arrange that Wi-Fi on the London underground would be provided for free to customers of Virgin Media and partnering companies, while being subsidised by everyone else.”
I can confirm that we hold the information you require. However, it is exempt from release under section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act, the exemption relating to ‘commercial interests’. Section 43 allows for information to be withheld where its release would, of would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person (be it an individual, a company or the public authority itself). In this case we believe that release of the information requested would undermine TfL’s position in the negotiation of the new contract for WiFi provision on the Underground, a process which is due to start shortly with the imminent issue of tender documents. Colleagues carrying out the procurement exercise have indicated that release of the information at this juncture would present a risk to that negotiation.
The section 43 exemption is “qualified”, meaning that even if it applies in theory, whether or not it should be applied in practice is determined by a consideration of where the greater public interest lies (the ‘public interest test’). In considering the public interest we have taken into account the expectation for public authorities to be transparent in the provision of information, and the fact that this information has been requested under the FOI Act is in itself an argument in favour of release. However, as a publicly funded organisation (including through taxpayer-funded grants and fares from passengers) TfL has a duty to secure the best value for money in its commercial activities, and it is clearly in the public interest for those commercial activities not to be prejudiced to the detriment of the public purse. Furthermore, TfL publishes information about contracts worth over £5000 on our website (found via the following link: https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/publications-and-reports/contracts-greater-than-5000) which already provides the public with an indication of the value of this contract (the register shows that the current value of the contract, to its end on 31st March 2021, is in the range of £10m-£25m). For these reasons we believe that the overall public interest falls in favour of the exemption being applied.
Note that WiFi at tube stations is provided free to customers of Virgin Media, EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three. More information about the service is provided on our website here:
Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.
FOI Case Officer
FOI Case Management Team
Transport for London
Back to top