Broadband News

Virgin Media launches investigation into Project Lightning exaggeration

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.


There hasn't been a new cable laid in these parts in 20 years, "Project Lightning" always seems to be more PR than actual action.

  • phead
  • about 1 year ago

Not sure it can be claimed nothing is happened due to a single area not being touched yet. Early days in the program yet, still 3/4ths and change to go.

  • CarlThomas
  • about 1 year ago

Taking this 140,000 excess off the published numbers means that VM have reached 600k, as of last quarter.

That's 15% of the ultimate target, so still 6/7'ths to go. That's with reporting progress numbers for 7 quarters so far.

At the current rate of progress, there's another 42 quarters to go... 10 years!

  • WWWombat
  • about 1 year ago

If they repeat the shift into apartments, which seemed to be taking place in East London then volume may be easier to achieve with servicing those rather than the suburban sprawls with their modern curvy but narrow roads

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • about 1 year ago

@phead: there have been Virgin Media roadworks in all roads here in the suburbs of Basingstoke. They've worked these last two months installing FTTP to all of Lychpit, Old Basing and South Chineham. Sadly not got to my road, but they're now only a stone's throw away.

  • DougM
  • about 1 year ago

I'd be inclined WWW to basically write off 2015 as warm up, 2016 as ramp up with contractors being recruited and processes being worked on.

In three nearby parts of this city there are 51 different teams working right now. There are various other projects ongoing too.

Most of last year this didn't go over perhaps a dozen.

  • CarlThomas
  • about 1 year ago

A quick look actually shows a bunch of work going on in Bradford, Wakefield, Castleford and Dewsbury, too. Last year this was basically non-existent.

Going a bit to the south and east there's work going on in Doncaster, Scunthorpe, York and Sheffield.

Basically every major urban settlement apart from Hull has substantial amounts of ongoing work. Busy, busy, busy.

  • CarlThomas
  • about 1 year ago

Explains why Virgin "Cable My Street" website showed "We're on our way" for the last 4 months and then suddenly two weeks ago changed back to "Our cables don't reach you yet". We are in a built up area of hundreds of houses next to Gloucester city and stuck with 3-4mb broadband and no sign of any providers actually putting in better services, even though Virgin & BT network reaches within 150 meters. Incredible! (Rant over)

  • markryder
  • about 1 year ago

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