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Virgin Media announces ten communities set to get FTTP
Monday 23 May 2016 13:44:39 by Andrew Ferguson

As part of the Project Lightning expansion by Virgin Media a 'Supercharge Local Communities' initiative has been running and as a result of some 7,000 votes cast over a two month period 10 communities are set to benefit from the arrival of Virgin Media.

  • Kirknewton (West Lothian)
  • Houston, Crosslee, Craigends and Brookfield (Renfrewshire)
  • Bridge of Weir (Renfrewshire)
  • Ratby (Leicestershire)
  • Wilsden (West Yorkshire)
  • Kilmacolm (Inverclyde)
  • Stoke Poges (Buckinghamshire)
  • Lightwater (Surrey)
  • Hartley Wintney and Phoenix Green (Hampshire)
  • Oakley (Dorset)

The service choice will be the usual suite of Virgin Media broadband,phone and TV products which currently tops out at 200 Mbps download (upgrades starting to up 20 Mbps upload) with a home worker or business package also available in some areas with speeds of up to 300 Mbps. The difference for these ten areas is that the delivery will utilise FTTP, with narrow trenching allowing deployment of up to 100 metres a day.

By announcing the areas we may actually be able to mark the expansion as both Virgin Media and FTTP available at the same time, so we will be keeping a close eye on the roll-outs. We have just updated our coverage tracker to show the level of ultrafast connectivity over time in the various parts of the UK, since after a few years of relatively flat availability the coverage levels are starting to edge up and we hope that this might rise from 50.3% now, to around 65% in 2018 and fingers crossed rise further, the exact result is hard to predict as a lot depends on the unknown of how much all the commercial roll-outs will overlap.

Virgin Media is still tracking demand and is now looking actively at demand for areas in some 18 counties, so if interested visit cablemystreet to register interest.


Posted by New_Londoner 5 months ago
It will be interesting to see how the premises count for these communities compares with the recent BT "ultrafast" (G.Fast and FTTP) announcements. And the deployment speeds - at 100m a day anything other then a small village will take a fair amount of time, just ask Gigaclear.
Posted by CarlThomas 5 months ago
They'll have somewhat more than just a single team working at a time, New_Londoner.

There were around 20 teams working in parallel here in Middleton at times.

They've likely picked these as they have teams in place to do the work.

Comparing this to BT is pointless. BT's rollout involves far less work and a fraction of the expense.
Posted by TheEulerID 5 months ago

I have to disagree. I think the comparison of VM & OR costs would be very instructive. Of course there's a huge difference between OR using FTTP (or from PCPs) and what a full FTTP roll-out would be. In principle, even a full FTTP roll-out ought to be cheaper for OR to do if they can save money from the existing passive infrastructure, but then they can only count on wholesale revenues in the business case.
Posted by CarlThomas 5 months ago
I can't see how the costs are instructive at all.

VM reckon £3 billion will be good for 4 million premises passed. BT are budgeting £6 billion for 10 million premises of, 'up to' 2 million of FTTP and 4G coverage upgrades.

Openreach can deploy for a fraction the costs of a VM cable build as there's really not much to do if colocating with an existing FTTC node. Even FTTP they can deploy for 1/4th the cost of VM's build. The majority of the costs are in the civils.
Posted by CarlThomas 5 months ago
If we want to try and compare costs, though, the FTTC upgrade for my area cost less than £100 per premises passed.

Deploying FTTP sensibly it won't cost all that much more as all properties are fully ducted and have swept tees. Sub-£200 per premises passed.

VM have budgeted 4 times that per premises just to pass the properties.
Posted by WWWombat 5 months ago
Not a lot of the £6bn is for G.Fast. The original impression given was that it would be covered within their annual capex volume. A while back, the Openreach capex for NGA was running at £300m - £400m per year.

I can imagine £1bn of that £6bn, over the 3 years, for G.Fast ... though there must be ongoing spending on mere superfast NGA, and something on USO too.
Posted by WWWombat 5 months ago
IMO, there isn't much point in comparing BT and VM expenditure.

VM need a growth strategy - and passing more properties is their chosen method. They "pass" properties by physically putting cables under the tarmac down the paths and roads. The very end-most "leaves" and "branches" in the "tree" of the access network.

BT, using G.Fast, already has the endmost leaves and branches, and their strategy needs them to focus a little higher in the "tree". They need more nodes, and more fibre along more core branches.

The two are making the most of their assets & strengths in very different ways.
Posted by WWWombat 5 months ago
BTW @carl, I think you underestimate the final cost of FTTP. You might be right that it is cheaper in the most modern of estates of "decent" executive shoeboxes, using methods like the trial in Swindon.

I'm just not persuaded there are that many properties you can apply that to.

We build 130k-180k per year in the UK. That would be 20 years of new builds to reach 10% of premises.

Now, some things built 20 years ago will fit. But /all/ properties? All apartments? All housing association? All council properties?
Posted by TheEulerID 5 months ago

I think it's instructive in terms of knowing what may, or may not make commercial sense. It could tell us where competition may appear, what sort of technology might be chosen. It matters in terms of where ultrafast speeds might appear and what technology will be used to deliver it. For example, from fibre cabinets appears a given but will OR choose to put nodes deeper into the network, or will gpon make more sense? Or maybe nothing works financially.
Posted by CarlThomas 5 months ago
Wombat - I only mentioned costs for my own area. Regardless FTTP is going to be considerably cheaper for BT to deploy than anything VM can do building their own.

I said nothing about all properties but some idea of those costs can be found in the BSG report.

Euler - no idea still of relevance of VM's choices of location or technology to OR.
Posted by CarlThomas 5 months ago
Euler - VM are using HFC to extend existing networks, FTTP to bulid to entirely new areas as it's cheaper and faster than greenfield HFC. A primary commercial driver is proximity to existing VM fibre.

VM want to shift triple-play so there's a big consideration too.

Every property is greenfield to VM with no reusable infrastucture. No idea how this can be instructive to Openreach overbuilding their own network and extingsively re-using existing assets.
Posted by jt2354 5 months ago
We're on the edge of one of the chosen communities. We are stuck with a 3km connection to a distant exchange reaching a maximum of 4Mbits/sec where the core of the village has had BT FTTC for a couple of years already. Our home is in one of a few small groups of homes, 1km or more from the core of the village. I wonder if the scheme will enable us to get "superfast" broadband, and if not, when will the last 5/3/3/2/1% get connected?
Posted by godsell4 5 months ago
@jt2354, if you are not any current planned BDUK update for a superfast connection, then the announcements over the last few days, reading between the lines, tell you that you are in one of the last 3%. I am in a similar position to you.
Posted by docbc 5 months ago
I don't know if it applies to all the areas in that list, but the e-mail I got from VM (I live in Kilmacolm) states they will be offering broadband and TV, but not phone service.

Presumably this means it'll be FTTP being deployed.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 5 months ago
The ten areas are FTTP enabled, and they should be able to do phone using a VoIP system, but they may decide not to. Will have to see how it develops, this is one way we think we might be able to spot the areas with FTTP rather than DOCSIS.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 5 months ago
@godsell4 @tj2354 An advisory - the BDUK projects are nothing to do with Virgin Media, but with regards the BDUK roll-outs. While projects have a good idea (and may not have released the detail yet) of where the 95% will be, the other 2% may only be known at a future date.

So cannot be sure you are in the 3% or not yet.
Posted by godsell4 5 months ago
@andrew, sure good to make be clear on any subtle quirks. I can say I am in a Market 1 location and no sign of VM coming anywhere near here, so pretty sure I am in the final 2 to 3%, my local council is certain Phase 2 is coming nowhere near anywhere in our Parish.
Posted by PhilipVirgo 5 months ago
I note all these claims about "cost". What proportion of the costs being quoted are for access an wayleave charges, what for construction and/or maintenance and what for backhaul? As Carl Thomas points out FTTP is now cheapest (and most flood proof) for new build. Under what circumstances is it also cheaper than an upgrade?
Posted by WWWombat 5 months ago
The best nationwide study on costs is this:

In there, FTTP comes out 5x the cost of FTTC overall, with detailed breakdown by geotypes.
Posted by chrysalis 5 months ago
Leicestershire is becoming a broadband hotspot, the rural area has lots of current or upcoming FTTP. It also had FTTC 3 years before the city got it.
The digital divide, rural ahead of cities :/
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