Virgin Media received criticism from the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) when it announced its network improvement programme, that would offer faster speeds and improve network capacity in the areas that Virgin Media has its cable broadband network. The CLA claimed that Virgin Media was ignoring the rural areas, interestingly while Virgin Media has indicated that its door is open to look at solutions their statement on ISPreview makes it clear what the real problem is.
"Our doors have always been open to the CLA and other groups to try to find solutions to the problem of poor connectivity in rural areas. We have invested over £13 billion of private money in building our network to half the country and, while we continue to expand our reach, we are doing so within our own means."Virgin Media spokesperson talking to ISPreview.co.uk
The £13 billion is the cost of getting the cable networks to where they stand now, and while no massive expansion program is under way, there are infills and upgrades to analogue networks adding more homes. Additionally Virgin Media backed the Fujitsu FTTH announcement back in 2011, that may see BDUK money delivering fibre to homes in areas where they win the contract. Alas it seems the sums have not stacked up for this solution, resulting in some parts of the UK having Openreach as the sole bidder.
One aspect many appear to have not fully grasped is that the 2 Mbps Universal Service Commitment, imposes no requirement on any provider to provide service. Also no definition of what is affordable has been announced, so a provider offering a 2 Mbps USC service in rural areas could simply charge the real cost of providing the service per property. The Universal Service Obligation that does exist only applies to BT (and KCOM in the Hull area) simply requires a telephone line, and support for a 28 Kbps data connection.
The big question is how much are those living in the most rural ten per cent of the UK willing to pay for a superfast connection that is comparable to what is available in the cities. The message from all political parties has been clear, in that funding is available to assist commercial roll-outs, but no total underwriting of the capital cost for 100% superfast broadband coverage is on the agenda at this time.