Virgin Media has announced plans to offer up free Wi-Fi in London, with the platform set to go live "in the not too distant future".

Speaking with investors, the company's chief executive Neil Berkett stated that the project was a "punt" that will cost the cable giant "a few million pounds" but stated it was important due to Virgin Media's "ethos of advancing digital lifestyles".

The service would compete with premium public Wi-Fi offerings such as BT's Openzone and The Cloud. It would be free at a 0.5Mbps speed, but Virgin Media customers would be able to tap into a 10Mbps service.

Virgin Media was said to be "inspired" by Cablevision's public Wi-Fi scheme in the states and said that its service would bridge the gap between 3G constraints and the 4G delay in this country.

"The gap that is increasingly occurring between consumers’ need for data outside the home and what they can get on 3G," said Berkett.

Virgin Media plans to use existing structures to house its Wi-Fi hotspots, including the cable boxes that it already has in place on many of London's streets.