Customers of Virgin Media are receiving a new letter, which informs them that the cable operator will soon begin the rapid roll-out of a new broadband speed boost on 1st October 2015. This is likely to be another double-speed upgrade and that would push their top tier from 152Mbps to 300Mbps.
At this stage the details are sketchy, although it’s perhaps quite telling that those who have received the message are already able to benefit from the last round of upgrades (this took the top tier to 152Mbps and created a new entry-level service of 50Mbps), thus the letter appears to reflect something new that goes beyond 152Mbps.
The news will not come as a surprise to ISPreview.co.uk readers because we’ve been predicting the deployment since the end of last year (example). Since then we’ve also seen Virgin Media trial a batch of new speeds up to 300Mbps (here), which if carried forward would see the new product tiers looking a bit like this. Virgin has a long history of doubling its download speeds.
Virgin’s Predicted Cable Download Speed Boosts for Autumn 2015
Current Package: 50Mbps [3Mbps Upload]
New Speed: 100Mbps
Current Package: 100Mbps [6Mbps Upload]
New Speed: 200Mbps
Current Package: 152Mbps [12Mbps Upload]
New Speed: 300Mbps
In the meantime Virgin Media’s letter takes subscribers to a vague information page, which simply states that they’re “increasing our customers’ broadband speeds yet again. And it’s on its way! Today you have the fastest widely available fibre optic broadband, that’s 2 x faster than Sky Fibre and BT Infinity. But we’re not stopping there, because we’re going to be increasing your broadband speeds once again.“. A closer look reveals the following titbit of information.
Speed Upgrade (T&C’s)
We will start the upgrade programme on 1 October which will offer a free upgrade to our base. This will roll out to 90% by the end of 2015 and the remaining will be completed in early 2016. As an area of the network is upgraded we will write to all of our customers in that area letting them know that their upgrade is ready and all they need to do to accept the upgrade is log on to their account online to confirm and we will then increase their speed.
By writing to them we are not forcing the upgrade upon them and if they want to stay as they are they can. If they decide not to take it at that time then the customer is able to log into their online account to take the upgrade at any time before the program is completed in 2016.
It’s worth noting how Virgin Media has previously needed between 12 and 18 months to complete such upgrades, although this time around they appear able to perform the work at a much more rapid pace. We suspect that stems from the efficiency of combining such upgrades with their on-going network expansion and future DOCSIS3.1 upgrades.
The upgrades would also give Virgin Media another marketing win to spout over BT’s new 500Mbps capable G.fast technology, which won’t begin its commercial deployment until around 2016/17 and it will then need a decade to reach “most homes” (here and here). G.fast is also predicted to launch with an initial top speed of up to 300Mbps.
Mind you not everybody on Virgin Media’s network gets the speeds they’re promised and there will always be some who fear that the operator is moving too fast, while others may question whether anybody really needs 300Mbps yet (that’s never stopped Virgin before).
Likewise, until this is confirmed, there will continue to be a question mark over whether Virgin Media’s long stalled upload speeds, which aren’t as good as FTTC’s best (20Mbps), will also be getting an overdue upgrade.
One other point to consider is that past speed boosts have often been followed a few months later by a price rise, which is despite such increases often initially being promoted as coming “at no extra cost” to the customer.
A spokesperson for Virgin Media has just confirmed to ISPreview.co.uk that this is indeed for a boost beyond the current 152Mbps maximum, although the official details will be revealed in October. You heard it here first.
UPDATE 4th September 2015
It looks like we now know what the new upload speeds will be too (here).
UPDATE 29th September 2015
Sadly the final confirmation isn’t quite as expected, with top speeds pushing to 200Mbps and uploads remaining unchanged (here).