Launched just in time for the Olympics, Virgin’s Wi-Fi service has been on of those rare tube upgrades that seems to have had a significant and immediate impact on those who use it.

No more standing around in the evenings or weekends bored because you missed the train and now have ten minutes of drip fed tedium as the minutes struggle to countdown to zero.

But from today, the service ceases to be free unless you are a Virgin customer, or have a mobile account with the appallingly badly named EE, or Vodafone.

That is, if you can register for the free service.

For the past few weeks I have received emails from Virgin exhorting me to register my Vodafone account with their service so that I may continue to use the service.

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Click on the link I am told, and I am taken to a page on the Vodafone website that tells me to log into their “My Vodafone” account and register there. So I do.

But where is the big red button saying “click here for moar internet”? In fact, where is anything that lets me register for free Wi-Fi? Or maybe I don’t need to do anything now, and I am already registered? I have no idea.

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I’ve tried it at home, I’ve tried it from my mobile phone on the tube, and I even tried it with a tablet over the weekend in a tube station just in case something different might pop into existence on the websites. I tried Vodafone’s downloadable app, but nope, that didn’t work either.

I am no Luddite, I work with telecoms everyday and yet I am totally baffled as to how I am supposed to link my Vodafone account to the Virgin service.

If I can’t manage it, how many other people are going to struggle tomorrow morning with registering their details?

A reasonably well received service that has had only occasional whinges about speed and quality could be flooded with irate rants tomorrow morning as people are locked out.

All for the lack of a simple button to click and get registered.

If anyone has worked out how to register their Vodafone account with the Wi-Fi service, can they let me know?

Update: Annie Mole has tweeted an advert by Vodafone and it suggests that I have to wait until tomorrow, then select Vodafone from the splash screen that loads when I first try to use the Wi-Fi service. A pity none of their emails/websites explained that before today.

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13 Comments

  1. Ian N

    Same on T-Mobile Ian, did the registration thing ages ago, got an email “we’ll check if you’re eligible and get back to you” and can’t get anything out of them since. Come on T-Mo/EE/whatever silly name you want this month, it’s not difficult, I pay you money every single month, you know who I am.

  2. Ian S

    Vodafone have quite a bit of previous about promising a lot and then making it very difficult to register for the services.

    My account allegedly comes with a decent chunk of BT OpenZone access, which I have singularly failed to access despite periodic bouts of really trying.

    As an upside, registering with Tube WiFi with a Virgin account has, so far, been really straightforward.

  3. Mu

    Good news for T-Mobile Ian – I was having the exact same issues and then finally got a text through this morning saying ‘Good news! From 29th January you’ll get WiFi on the London Underground at no extra cost’ – hopefully you’ll get that text soon as well.

  4. Ian N

    OK discovered that EE/T-Mo appear to have changed their process in the last few days – now have to text EEWIFI to 9527 from a phone on their network to get a password – which I’ve done and got a password back. Will try it when at an appropriate wifi-enabled station. They do seem very disorganised, haven’t seen this new process publicised at all.

  5. Sakhr

    Yes, the instructions here say that you have to wait until you’re near a Tube wifi hotspot, and then bring up the splash screen to be able to register: http://www.vodafone.co.uk/shop/internet/wi-fi/index.htm

    BUT: I tried this morning, and no splash screen came up, I just got “this service is unavailable”. At every wifi hotspot I tried on the Tube – and that was at about 1030 this morning. Anyone else managed to get through since then?

  6. Neil

    I managed to register my user id and password, but whenever I try to add credit (the 3 months for the price of 1 offer…) it falls over with a dead page.

  7. I got a text from EE this morning about the free tube wifi, and a link to get help connecting.

    All they need to do now is give me signal / 3G connection for long enough for me to find out. But that’s another rant entirely..

  8. Sakhr

    So, an update – I now get a landing page, but the Voda/EE/Virgin buttons are inactive. I tried loading another page and it took me straight through (in other words, the paywall still isn’t set up, anyone can get through without registering/paying).

  9. Stuart

    I got an e-mail from Virgin back in November, I just had to go to a webpage when connected to the tube Wifi and it would register the device somehow.

    It seemed pretty straightforward, I shall see tomorrow if it works.

  10. Stephen

    Watching this thread with interest. I’m in the same situation (with Vodafone & have been using the virgin wi-fi on the tube). I haven’t had a chance to try it this week, since I’m away from the office. To complicate matters, I used a different email address when signing up for the virgin wi-fi than I used to register with My Vodafone. So that might cause a problem “matching” me as a Vodafone customer.
    Oh well, worst case is I’ll have to go back to reading newspaper/book, watching a film, etc.

  11. As a Virgin Media broadband user, I’ve been receiving regular emails from Virgin urging me to enter my billing details in order to gain free access. I’ve done so about ten times now, using every possible permutation of the name on the bills I could think of, and every single time it has said, “Sorry, we didn’t recognise these details.” So it looks as if I’m going to be locked out, not because I couldn’t find the registration form, but because the registration form is non-functional.

    Fortunately, the underground WiFi is next to useless anyway. It takes so long to connect that you get about five seconds of usable uptime per station stop, and most of those are while the train is pulling out of the station. Unless I needed any information really urgently, I just gave up trying after a while. I managed before, and I’m sure I will again.

  12. Now I haven’t tested it yet, but the way it seems to work is that, as a Vodafone customer, I just enter my details into the login screen when I join the wifi network. Now I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t carry my user credentials around in my pocket – after all it’s something I generally only log into at home…

  13. Dan

    Free wifi is still working, you know. I wonder when they are going to flip the switch.

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