Skip Navigation

Virgin Media boosts FTTP coverage to 50% in Project Lightning
Friday 04 November 2016 10:36:22 by Andrew Ferguson

Virgin Media has released its Q3/2016 financials and the big news is that rather than 1 in 4 premises in the Project Lightning expansion being FTTP based the ratio will increase to 1 in 2.

"We have concluded that, in many cases, large scale builds deploying narrow trenching to build FTTP are more cost efficient than smaller infill opportunities. As a result, our targeted FTTP build has increased from 25% to 50% of our four million premises target, and the overall cost of the programme remains unchanged."

Extract from Liberty Global financials for Virgin Media UK

The downside is that the total footprint is not increasing, but the extra pure fibre properties are to be at the expense of infill, so if you are the handful of properties in a street without Virgin Media the odds of the service expanding to your area just reduced, but if you are in an area with no Virgin Media and property density is high and narrow trenching will work then your odds just increased.

The last quarter saw Project Lightning build its way past another 95,000 premises, taking the total to 250,000 so far this year, and should accelerate if the ambition of 450,000 to 500,000 premises by the end of 2016 is to be met, i.e. another 200,000 to 250,000 in the current quarter.

The 2 million FTTP premises matches the 2 million GEA-FTTP premises that Openreach is planning, and if there is no overlap this would take FTTP coverage in the UK to around 16%. Given other operators will increase their footprint it seems likely that where Openreach FTTP and Virgin Media FTTP does overlap we may still see 14 to 16% FTTP by 2020. In light of the expansion, we will endeavour to flag Project Lightning FTTP as opposed to coax in our availability fibres (i.e. add it to the FTTH/FTTP totals).

In other news, Virgin Media has not just being saying things to keep politicians and campaigners happy, it has grown its broadband customer base from 4,808,000 to 4,867,000 in the last quarter. In terms of the products people are buying over 50% are taking a 100 Mbps or faster product.

As Liberty Global operate in a number of countries we though it might be interesting to look at the relative levels of take-up in each country (NOTE: this is take-up within the Liberty Global footprint, not take-up nationally in each country).

  • Switzerland: 33.4%
  • Austria: 35.9%
  • Poland: 35.1%
  • Hungary: 36.7%
  • Romania: 18.7%
  • Czech Republic: 32.2%
  • Slovakia: 22.5%
  • United Kingdom: 37%
  • Ireland: 43.2%
  • Panama: 30%
  • Jamaica: 36.9%
  • Trinidad and Tobago: 39.7%
  • Barbados: 54.2%
  • Bahamas: 16%

Heading back to the UK, the recent news of the acquisition of the Arqiva Wi-Fi hot-spot business features, and tells us that this means Virgin Media Wi-Fi will grow by 6,500 with some 31,000 hotspots serving those locations currently.


Posted by adslmax 6 months ago
And BT Openreach FTTP is very low probably 1%. BTO should catch up with Virgin Media with FTTP to UK by 60% coverage.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 6 months ago
Openreach GEA-FTTP is yes currently around 1%, 300,000 premises, but as article notes they are planning to reach 2 million premises in a similar timescale to Virgin Media.

To reach 60% FTTP coverage would need around 17.4 million FTTP premises.
Posted by leexgx 6 months ago
there are some areas where all the ducting is installed all the way to the houses but NTL never bothered to install the FTTN node and repeaters into the green cabs and are today still there are waiting for equipment, silly
Posted by leexgx 6 months ago
i thought virgins FTTP offering is just a FTTN in the house (FTTP to premise but then converts it to coxa? instead of a pure FTTP to gigabit ethernet router)
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 6 months ago
Virgins FTTP i.e. the 2 million is fibre into the home, and is RFOG so after a converter the usual DOCSIS kit can be used. Thus is not FTTN.
Posted by CarlThomas 6 months ago
By that definition leegx B4RN isn't pure FTTP as it goes into a media converter in the house and is delivered to the router via copper.

Openreach FTTP isn't FTTP as it goes into an ONT that delivers to the router via copper.

The VM stuff is FTTP.
Posted by jchamier 6 months ago
@CarlThomas - sorry, but FTTP goes to an ONT and either output as Gigabit Ethernet or output as DOCSIS Coax. Both are true FTTP. The ONT is in the premises (home).

I don't think anyone makes an ONT for GPON in a PCIe card yet!
Posted by GMAN99 6 months ago
That is what he is saying he is challenging leegx definition which is incorrect, of course fibre delivered to an ONT is fttp that is how fibre is delivered it doesn't goes direct to a CPE even leased line.
Posted by leexgx 6 months ago
i accept ONT in the house is FTTP

was talking more a fttp to ethernet which how bt/openreach works FTTP to modem then router of your choosing

as virgin setup is FTTP to docsis coxa normal tv/docsis router (guess makes more sense as its simpler to work with there router/modem and TV box)maybe in the next years vm will offer a 1gb option :)
Posted by GMAN99 6 months ago
But the modem you speak of in the bt/openreach setup is the ONT, its just a branded ONT

And there's nothing wrong with what you connect on other other side of it, 1Gbps copper to router is fine, no issues there no loss of speed.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 6 months ago
Perhaps we should only accept FTTH if the PC,tablet,mobile have an optical network interface ;-)
Posted by cymru123 6 months ago
@leexgx, you sort of contradicted yourself there. Also bear in mind that these are domestic pieces of kit rather than for an industrial/commercial environment so the majority of ISP and third-party domestic CPE router's won't have optical WAN input and outputs.
So the Openreach ONTs need to integrate with existing routers, otherwise you will be forcing many vendors to create domestic routers that have optical WAN inputs (costs and deployment impacts)
Also as stated by others Ethernet to a 1000BASE-X or above is still an appropriate solution and is widely used in the industry.
Posted by CarlThomas 6 months ago
As long as we can continue calling broadband 'fibre' if there's any fibre at all in the loop we're all good :)
Posted by leexgx 6 months ago
i dont agree calling FTTC VDSL as fiber broadband as i seen number of lines only getting 10-20mb (more near fiber broadband)

still wish FTTP was standard on new house builds (and maybe prewired for Virgin as well be it Coxa as i have seen at some places or fiber verrant)
Posted by PhilipVirgo 6 months ago
The Home Builders Federation objected when Ashford Council sought to mandate fibre by default (unless impractical) to new build of ten properties or more, while the BT offer is only free to 30 or more
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.