If you’ve always rued the fact that you can’t get Virgin’s 152Mbps broadband in your street, fret no more, the cable company could soon be coming to you.
Virgin Media has announced plans to expand its superfast cable network to cover an additional 4 million home and businesses premises over the next five years.
What’s more, the ISP wants you to tell it where to dig – network expansion is to be prioritised according to demand, albeit with a focus on areas that are closest to the existing Virgin network. At present, the cable network covers roughly 12.5 million premises, mainly in urban and suburban areas.
Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media’s chief executive officer, said: “Millions of homes and businesses will soon be able to benefit for the first time from broadband speeds at least twice as fast as those available from the other major providers.
“Consumers and business owners who want to make the switch to better broadband speeds now have an alternative; you can call on Virgin Media to ‘Cable My Street’.”
In most places where BT has rolled out superfast broadband connections, the top download speeds available to most people is 76Mbps – Virgin Media’s top tier service currently provides 152Mbps.
If you like the sound of that and want Virgin Media to come to your manor, head over here and drop your postcode in.
Eager would-be customers should note that Virgin Media might not be able to sort you out. As the Virgin network was created by the consolidation of several cable companies, many of which were focussed on serving a town or a city, there are a few gaps.
This is where Virgin Media is primarily focussing, although as we’ve seen in Harbrough and Stallingborough, if there’s an opportunity to connect a village, Virgin Media can do that too.
Virgin Media is also trialling gigabit fibre in leafy Papworth Everard in Cambridgeshire, although the company isn’t saying today how this might factor into future plans.
Project Lightning: Virgin Media’s panzer attack on BT
Internally, Virgin Media is referring to the new drive as ‘Project Lightning,’ signifying the company’s desire to wage a blitzkrieg war on chief broadband rival BT.
Mockridge added: “In virtually all of the areas we have identified for expansion, BT is the only option available right now. Its ageing copper telephony wires are not capable of the ultrafast connectivity that Virgin Media delivers. Soon we will offer unbeatable services to even more homes and businesses across the country.”
Referring to BT’s FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) connections as ‘copper technology’ is a bit rich when Virgin Media’s own HFC (Hybrid Fibre Cable) lines use copper in the last mile, albeit coaxial cable, which is of a much higher quality than the old telephone lines BT uses.
Virgin Media’s owner Liberty Global has also signalled that it intends to run trials of DOCSIS 3.1 technology across Europe later this year. This could provide gigabit download speeds, possibly up to 10Gbps to customers without the need for Virgin Media to shoulder the expense of upgrading everyone to FTTP (Fibre to the Premises).