Virgin Media Announces Largest Rollout of Broadband in the UKCharles Wood
Virgin Media yesterday announced their intention to accelerate the UK’s rollout of fibre optic broadband directly to homes and businesses, by committing to one million new fibre to the premises (FTTP) connections under current expansion plans.
Tom Mockridge, CEO of Virgin Media, stated that this expansion is “about future-proofing the country’s network infrastructure with the best and most modern technology”. The announcement confirms the scale and provides further details about its wider ‘Project Lightning’ expansion plan, which will add 4 million homes and businesses to the Virgin Media network by 2019.
Using Virgin Media’s existing Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) infrastructure, this rollout is expected to deliver speeds of 200-300Mbps, with the potential for 1000Mbps being reached once new technology is applied (DOCSIS 3.1).
This announcement gives details on the type of technology being used to make these connections, as the cable operator confirmed plans to install FTTP connections in at least one million homes and businesses.
It is hard to see the announcement without reflecting on the strategic focus for FTTP connections that was made in Ofcom’s Digital Communications Review. This made clear that the UK needs to improve its position of having the lowest proportion of FTTP connections to homes and businesses of any OECD nation.
Virgin Media has already begun its rollout of FTTP in Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire, and work is expected to begin soon in West Yorkshire, Devon and East Sussex.
This move, in conjunction with the increased capacity of alternative providers, boosts the UK’s level of infrastructure competition at the most basic layer. It will be interesting to see how many of these new premises address urban not-spots, although, as we have previously stated, the business case for some of these areas falls down on predicted demand for superfast products.