Broadband News

Virgin Media to bring Project Lightning to Test and Dun Valley area

There is a reason we are not always first in the race to copy and paste press releases and that is because we wait until we've done a little checking on what is actually happening.

The brilliant news for some 4,000 residents and businesses in the Test and Dun Valley area of Hampshire is that Virgin Media is to bring its Project Lightning roll-out to the area and will deploy its full fibre (FTTP) network to villages that you would not normally expect to find ultrafast broadband.

The new FTTP network being built by Virgin Media across 12 villages in the Test and Dun Valleys is the result of a huge community campaign, championed by several individuals across the area. We are thrilled that Virgin Media recognised the opportunity presented by this rural build. This initiative is a brilliant example of how communities and private companies can work together to make great things happen.

Cate Bell, a spokesperson for TVNeed4speed and Chairman, West Tytherley and Frenchmoor Parish Council

The campaign Need4Speed was set up to campaign and bring future proof technology to the villages and the current situation is described as many households receive less than 1 Mbps and the BBC goes even further and states "it is almost impossible for residents and businesses in these areas to download, stream or upload files". We have taken a quick look at what the coverage is like and also can see hints of further expansion by the phase two of the Hampshire BDUK project too.

  • Houghton, Cabinet 3 is live for VDSL2 and covers the village apart from 3 outlying postcodes
  • West Tytherley, Cabinet 7 it looks like is in the build stages, but of course will not help postcodes like SP5 1JP 2km from the cabinet
  • Broughton, VDSL2 went live in the village in 2015
  • Wherwell, has FTTP already available via Openreach to around half the village, the rest with VDSL2 in the roughly 10 to 30 Mbps region and hints that some Exchange Only lines may see BDUK help
  • Winterslow cabinets 2, 3 and 6 are live but some exchange only lines are missing out
  • Firsdown, cabinet 5 is live for VDSL2 and there is also some Openreach FTTP
  • Michelmersh, cabinet 1 is live for VDSL2
  • Timsbury, cabinet 1 is live for VDSL2 but distances are a factor with some possibly dropping to 10 Mbps
  • Kings Somborne, cabinet 1 is in the design stage so maybe a year before going live
  • Goodworth Clatford, cabinet 26 on the Andover exchange and is live for VDSL2
  • Chilbolton cabinet 1 is in the construction phases for VDSL2
  • Stockbridge cabinet 1 is another on the to offering VDSL2 and hints of some network rearrangement which we would guess will cover the area around SO20 6DR (i.e. Longstock)

We really expected much more of a spartan coverage picture, or as we have seen in other villages the cabinet located in a neighbouring village 1 or more kilometres away. This story therefore looks less about bringing superfast broadband to the villages but taking the next leap beyond that into the ultrafast sphere. Examples of what speed tests locals are seeing can be found in our speed test map layer.

Before people get too excited that Project Lightning is going to be coming to their area, the campaign has been underway for a long time and Virgin Media are only arriving because 1,000 residents have committed to taking the new service and the Financial Times suggests that a £300 connection fee will be applicable. Construction is underway and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019 so it will as always be interesting to see how deep into the remote 1km away the other nearest postcode the roll-out reaches, clearly a fixed connection speed with options from 50 Mbps to 350 Mbps is a lot nice than the variables of VDSL2 and as test for Virgin Media seeing if it can get those with 10 to 15 Mbps VDSL2 speeds to upgrade is the key to whether they will roll-out to other similar rural areas, for those with just ADSL/ADSL2+ options the upgrade choice is a lot simpler usually (we say usually as we still see plenty of people using ADSL2+ in areas with FTTP from numerous providers and sales of VDSL2 are still good in areas where Virgin Media is available.


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