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Virgin Media’s Gigabit Upgrade Reaches 12.8m Homes

Virgin Media’s project to extend gigabit broadband to all 15.5 million of its covered premises nears competition, with a further 2.5 million addresses across the UK reached by the upgrade last week.

The latest advance of the DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade, which boosts download speeds on Virgin’s cable broadband network to 1,130Mbps (52Mbps upload), took in Brighton, Colchester, Doncaster, Derby, Gillingham, Portsmouth, Southend, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent, Swansea, Wakefield and other smaller locations.

The upgrades of Virgin’s cable network began in 2019, with Manchester, Southampton and Reading the first to benefit. The latest progress report suggests Virgin Media O2 will meet its stated target of upgrading its entire network by the end of the year.

Lutz Schüler, chief executive of VMO2, said: “Our continued investment means more than three-quarters of our network is now gigabit ready, offering millions of households across the country access to future-proof services and the fastest broadband available from any major provider.

“We’re continuing with our mission to upgrade the UK and connect our entire network to gigabit speeds by the end of the year—a pace unrivalled by any other provider.”

VMO2 isn’t resting on its laurels, planning to bring full fibre—potentially capable of speeds of up to 10Gbps both downstream and upstream—to all properties in its footprint by 2028. TV rival Sky is likely to take a stake in the £1.4 billion upgrade.

The FTTP build will let Virgin retain its title as UK’s fastest widely available broadband provider and compete with growing fibre networks from BT’s Openreach and independent providers such as CityFibre, Gigaclear, and Hyperoptic.

The competition of Virgin’s cable upgrade, combined with full-fibre deployments from other networks, will take the availability of gigabit broadband to between 60-65%. However, covering the remaining percentage will take more effort and market watchers say that Boris Johnson’s pledge of bringing gigabit broadband to 85% of the country by 2025 might still be unattainable.

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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