For those people who have seen Virgin Media engineering teams come and go in their area the news that Virgin Media is investigating itself over exaggerated coverage claims for Project Lightning according to reports in The Telegraph may not be too much of a surprise.
It appears reports that Project Lightning had delivered new coverage to some 718,000 premises are being revised down to a new figure of 567,000 and four staff have been suspended with disciplinary action a possibility which might even go as far as dismissal.
So what has gone on? Put simply it seems that premises were being optimistically added to the coverage totals when significant further work was still needed to enable cabinets in area.
"It should be noted that any estimate involving new build activity of the magnitude of Project Lightning and our other new build programs is inherently difficult to determine and is dependent upon multiple factors impacting construction.Virgin Media
Thinkbroadband coverage analysis is based on analysis of where people can order a Virgin Media service and generally lags the expansion work by Openreach, KCom, Gigaclear and Hyperoptic. One reason for this is that the press releases in 2016 were well ahead of people being able to order and in 2017 so far the focus has been on making sure our data takes into account all of the new housing that appeared in 2016, and this explains why we've not been querying any coverage figures from Virgin Media. As 2017 progresses the areas where Virgin Media is delivering via Project Lightning will form a small but important part of the 95% UK superfast broadband target. It is 'small' as much of the build is overlapping with VDSL2, including some cabinets likely to have been gap funded.
The key thing now is, with the management shuffle, to get the project back on track and deliver the 1.3 to 1.4 million premises expected in 2017 and push on towards the eventual goal that might see the cable footprint reach two thirds of UK premises, and once DOCSIS 3.1 hits the ground, that means Gigabit coverage at that level too.