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Virgin Media trials gigabit fibre broadband tech in rural Cambridgeshire

Virgin Media is bringing gigabit fibre to 100 homes in Cambridgeshire as part of a rural broadband trial. 

The trial will see the village of Papworth Everard connected to FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) broadband providing download speeds of up to 1Gbps (1,000Mbps) – head and shoulders above the current UK average.

Virgin Media will be employing a new method called ‘narrow-trenching’ to connect homes. In a nutshell, this means Virgin Media can deploy fibre more quickly and at a reduced cost. 

Virgin wil be boosting speeds in Cambridge with a new, lower cost technique
Virgin wil be boosting speeds in Cambridge with a new, lower cost technique

Paul Buttery, Virgin Media’s chief customer, networks and technology officer, said: “Virgin Media continues to push the boundaries of broadband, launching the UK’s first superfast service in 2008 and boosting Virgin Media homes yet again with 152Mbps broadband launched this year. 

“We know our network is unbeatable and we are excited to bring 1Gbps to the people of Papworth as they help us explore a new way of rolling out our network faster and more cost-effectively.” 

While just 100 homes in Papworth Everard will be connected, Virgin Media will also make its regular cable services, providing download speeds of up to 152Mbps, available to the majority of the village. 

This isn’t the first time Virgin Media has rolled out high speed broadband to rural areas. In 2012 the cable ISP, which normally targets urban and suburban areas, connected two Lincolnshire villages to its network, taking them from a 0.5Mbps dark age to a 120Mbps future. 

Castle Howard in Yorkshire and surrounding business parks also benefitted from some Virgin Media love earlier this year. 

This will be the first time that Virgin Media has used this narrow trenching method, which lets engineers lay over 100 meters of cable in a day. Whether this will result in Virgin Media embarking on a rural fibre rollout scheme like Gigaclear or bringing FTTP to other areas remains to be seen.  

Virgin Media’s current cable network, available to over 12 million UK homes, will be able to deliver gigabit speeds following an upgrade to DOCSIS 3.1, which Virgin Media says would be more cost-effective than building FTTP everywhere

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