Virgin Media is set to start in February 2012 rolling out a series of network upgrades that will see the vast majority of its customers benefit from a doubling of their connection speeds, and the top tier 100 Mbps customers will see a boost to 120 Mbps. The boost to the top tier puts Virgin Media into the position of the faster major broadband provider in the UK. The upgrades are not just based around adjusting cable modem connection speeds but are backed by a £110m investment in the network in 2012.
|Existing download speed||New download speed||New upload speed|
|10 Mbps||20 Mbps||2 Mbps|
|20 Mbps||60 Mbps||6 Mbps|
|30 Mbps||60 Mbps||6 Mbps|
|50 Mbps||100 Mbps||10 Mbps|
|100 Mbps||120 Mbps||12 Mbps|
"The last few quarters have demonstrated that, with the proliferation of exciting new digital services, demand for superfast connectivity among UK households is accelerating fast. Virgin Media's long history of investment in next generation digital infrastructure means we have - and will continue to have - the ability to meet this demand by putting more bandwidth in the hands of consumers at a fraction of the cost of other network operators.
This long term network advantage, combined with fast-growing consumer demand, means that today we have a window of opportunity to simultaneously step change the UK market, decisively differentiate our consumer proposition and transform our customers' digital experience."Chief Executive Officer, Neil Berkett
Virgin Media covers just under half the homes in the UK, which means that once the programme is completed in mid 2013, some half of the UK will have access to 120 Mbps if they want it, and even the more money conscious will have access to an affordable 60 Mbps. To give some idea of the level of improvements, Virgin Media estimates that if the customers on its network after this upgrade were a country on their own, it would rank 2nd in the world in terms of broadband speed. The Governments ambition is for the UK to have the best broadband in Europe by 2015, and today's news goes a long way towards helping meet that ambition, hitting all the metrics though will depend a lot on what the implementation of the various local authority lead BDUK projects delivers.
Customers in addition to the free speed uplifts will see the traffic management fair usage amounts increased in proportion to downstream speeds.
The biggest competitior to Virgin Media in the superfast game is Openreach, and while their 100 Mbps FTTP product is due a speed increase to 300 Mbps in 2012, the footprint of this service is vastly smaller than that of the Virgin Media network. The upgrades from 40 Mbps to 80 Mbps on the FTTC product, which will see speeds boosted will only double the speeds for those closest to the cabinets, the same sort of effect as the increase in speeds from ADSL to ADSL2+