(Pocket-lint) - Virgin Media is to offer free Wi-Fi in public places around the UK, including streets in towns and cities, as it will use customers' Super Hub and Super Hub 2 routers as hotspots. Connection to them will be through a new smartphone app.

In a scheme similar to BT FON, Virgin Media is utilising its vast network of home broadband connections to create Wi-Fi hotspots around the country. Customers whose Super Hubs are to be used as part of the service are currently being informed by email about the change.

They are also being told that the connections from strangers will not impact their own connection. "We'll switch on a separate internet connection to your Super Hub," the email reads. "Don't worry, the broadband you love and pay for will stay exclusively yours - and remain just as secure."

A Virgin Media spokesman also elaborated: "The public hotspot will be powered by additional bandwidth being send to the router which will be accessed via a separate IP address," he said.

Customers who don't want their routers to be used externally as part of the program can opt out of the scheme in their profile settings on their account webpages. However, by doing so, they will not be able to access free Wi-Fi from other users' kit when out and about.

Basically, it's an incentive for everyone to share together.

What we don't know though is whether customers who only use their Super Hub or Super Hub 2 devices as modems rather than routers will also be affected. If set as a modem only will others be able to access free Wi-Fi through the same router? And if not, will the customer with the router be excluded from free Wi-Fi outside?

We've asked Virgin Media to clarify those points and will update when we get an answer.

For more details you can check out a dedicated website here.

Virgin Media still operates free Wi-Fi in the London Underground, which will remain unaffected.

Writing by Rik Henderson.