Virgin Media is about to complete the roll out of its 50meg DOCSIS 3.0 based broadband service and is celebrating this by reducing the monthly cost of its XXL package from September to £38 a month, or £28 a month if taken with a phone line. This is quite a large drop from the current pricing of £50 a month without the phone line, or £35 with, which should make the service affordable to more people. Crucially, the 50meg service is currently free from any traffic management that is imposed on the lower speed products.
"As the first company to bring broadband to the UK ten years ago, the completion of our next-generation network marks another pioneering moment for internet access in the UK. We are delighted with the performance and reliability of our 50Mb service, and with the customer feedback. Now the roll-out is days from being complete, we're ready to take 50Mb to the next stage of development and reinforce our leading position in the broadband market."Jon James, (Executive Director of Broadband) Virgin Media
Virgin have also announced a new pilot to trial different upload speeds including an upstream speed of 10meg. This is made possible via the new DOCSIS 3.0 network (the technology can support over 100meg upstream), and is looking to explore both the technical capabilities as well as the user demand for higher upstream services. This comes along side the previously announced pilot of their new 200meg broadband service in Ashford, Kent. No dates are yet set for when this may venture out as a live product, but it does show Virgin are a significant step ahead of BT (who are currently piloting 40meg services) in the speed wars.
A virgin Media branded laptop has also been announced today, called the Freedom Netbook, with a retail value of around £300 but to be available free with certain 24-month mobile and fixed-line broadband connections. It features an Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor, Wireless networking (including 802.11n), but doesn't have a built in 3G modem, so a USB dongle will still be required for access to mobile broadband services.