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Virgin Media Runs Another Trial of 2.2Gbps Broadband

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Virgin Media is once again flexing the muscles of its broadband network, running a trial in locations in Edinburgh and Birmingham that boosts download speeds to 2.2Gbps (2,200Mbps).

Over the past two years, Virgin Media has been upgrading its broadband infrastructure to the DOCSIS 3.1 standard. The upgrade had reached 12.8 million premises by last week, leaving just two or three million more to be covered by the end of the year to meet Virgin’s deadline. 

The upgrade has boosted download speeds on the network from around 630Mbps to 1,130Mbps, making Virgin the nation’s largest provider of gigabit broadband.

But the 1.1Gbps packages Virgin is now selling on the network don’t remotely tap the full potential of the upgrade. The DOCSIS 3.1 standard is theoretically capable of delivering peak download speeds of up to 10Gbps and upload speeds of 2Gbps.

To demonstrate that strength (likely largely to investors), Virgin Media has been trialling download speeds of 2.2Gbps since last year, with previous tests performed in Thatcham and parts of Southampton and Manchester The third speed trial took place recently in Edinburgh and Birmingham.

Jeanie York, chief technology officer of Virgin Media O2, said: “As the UK’s largest gigabit broadband provider, we’re always looking to go further and faster. With our latest multi-gigabit trial in Birmingham and Edinburgh, we’re putting this commitment to innovation into action, demonstrating the true power of our network and getting ready for the technology of tomorrow.”

The Achilles’ heel of Virgin Media’s cable network has always been its upload speeds. And this trial was no different. While the first test of the multi-gigabit speeds last September applied the DOCSIS 3.1 protocol to upstream channels, boosting speeds to 214Mbps, this test continued using the previous 3.0 standard on uploads. That limited speeds to around 50Mbps, the same upload speeds Virgin Media is currently selling with its 1.1Gbps tariffs.

Virgin Media will enhance its entire cable network with symmetrical full fibre by 2028 in order to keep pace with rivals Openreach (BT) and alternative FTTP networks.

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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