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Gigabit Speeds Now Available Over Virgin Media’s Entire Broadband Network

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An upgrade that boosts download speeds on Virgin Media’s cable broadband network to 1.1Gbps has now reached all 15.5m premises, just two years after it began.

On Tuesday 7 December, VMO2 flipped the switch on its DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade for the final 1.1 million homes not yet reached. This includes premises in Exeter, Poole, Plymouth, Norwich, Luton, Loughborough, Oldham, Rochdale and parts of Surrey and Hertfordshire.

Customers can access these top speeds through Virgin's standalone Gig1 tariff, available for £62 per month on an 18-month contract. You can also package gigabit broadband with TV in the Ultimate Volt bundle, for £99 per month.

Virgin Media’s upgrade of its cable network began in late 2019. It’s now the country’s largest gigabit broadband provider, its lightning-fast internet available to over 50% of the country.

Lutz Schüler, CEO of VMO2, said: “Just two years ago we set out to spearhead the UK’s gigabit revolution and today we’ve delivered. Our investment to bring gigabit broadband to every home on our network has catapulted the UK’s digital infrastructure forward by a decade and forced others to up their game.

“As the country’s largest gigabit provider by far, we’re the driving force behind widespread gigabit availability four years ahead of the Government’s target.”

The government has announced a target of 85% gigabit broadband coverage by 2025. That figure currently stands at around 63%, with contributions from Virgin Media and a host of full-fibre providers.

Digital secretary Nadine Dorries welcomed Virgin Media’s contribution to the target. “Getting high speed broadband into everyone’s homes is a top priority and Virgin Media O2’s efforts mean we’re making quick progress in our mission to level up the UK with better connectivity,” she said.

The drawback to Virgin Media’s upgrade cable network is that while download speeds now sit at 1.1Gbps (1,130Mbps), upload speeds are stuck in the slow lane, on 52Mbps. That means the network doesn’t quite keep pace with full-fibre networks, which deliver symmetric upload and download speeds of 1Gbps and is more future-proofed for further speed upgrades.

In a trial conducted earlier this year, Virgin pushed upload speeds on its cable network to 214Mbps. It's also flexed its muscles in several trials that have taken download speeds to 2.2Gbps.

However, it hasn’t yet announced plans to roll out these further upgrades of its cable lines and, in an acknowledgement of the superiority of full fibre technology, has in fact announced plans to replace the entire network with FTTP.

Virgin currently reaches 1.1 million homes with FTTP and aims to connect 14.3 million more by 2028, to vie with BT’s Openreach and a handful of alternative full-fibre networks. Virgin says speeds on its full-fibre network will hit up to 10Gbps both downstream and upstream.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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