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UPDATE Virgin Media UK to Begin Broadband Speed Upgrades to 152Mbps

Saturday, Feb 1st, 2014 (1:30 am) - Score 12,882
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Customers of Virgin Media’s (Liberty Global) national UK cable network can expect to start receiving a significant broadband download speed boost, at no extra cost, when the operator this month begins rolling out its latest network upgrades and pushes their top package speeds up to 152Mbps (Megabits per second).

The phased deployment, which was first announced last November (here), is expected to last for 12 months and should complete during early 2015. The result is that customers on Virgin’s popular entry-level 30Mbps package will, for example, receive a headline boost up to 50Mbps and other packages should see a similar jump.

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Virgin’s Broadband Speed Boost (Examples)
Current Package: 30Mbps – New Speed: 50Mbps [3Mbps upload]
Current Package: 60Mbps – New Speed: 100Mbps [6Mbps upload]
Current Package: 100/120Mbps – New Speed: 152Mbps [12Mbps upload]

Sadly the operators upload speeds will remain the same as they are today. But it’s worth pointing out that Virgin has historically boosted upload speeds too and it often does this as part of a semi-separate process (i.e. uploads will probably increase again in the near future).

One notable downside to the development though is that customers will also see their cable bills rise by an average of 6.7% this month (excluding some things like the home phone talk plans), which many view as being designed to help fund the latest speed boost.

Some customers will also need a new SuperHub router before they can upgrade and Virgin has promised to supply this at no extra cost (we suspect that this will mostly apply to the older 30Mbps and slower subscribers). The move could place extra pressure on BT, which is currently only able to offer a top mass market speed of up to 80Mbps via Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology.

Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media’s CEO, said last year:

We are boosting speeds again and ensuring our customers can get even more value from their Virgin Media subscription. Our top speed will be twice as fast as BT and all the others reliant on their old copper telephony infrastructure as we extend our lead as Britain’s ultrafast broadband provider.”

Ofcom’s May 2013 data showed that the average speed delivered on Virgin’s cable platform was 34.9Mbps, which compares with 43.6Mbps on FTTC. But this is mostly because the bulk of Virgin’s subscribers use the 30Mbps package and that will change after the upgrade. Meanwhile BT is busy testing Vectoring technology for FTTC, which could help them to keep pace (note: no clear ETA for that has been confirmed).

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It’s worth pointing out that a small number of Virgin Media’s subscribers, so far mostly those on the older 20Mbps or 30Mbps packages, have already reported a recent jump to the new speed of 50Mbps. We have repeatedly asked Virgin to comment on this and various other aspects of the speed boost but they continue to reply, “there’s no further update at the moment“.

In addition Virgin Media still has plenty of legacy packages and many of those will also be able to upgrade. For example, some subscribers on the 20Mbps product should jump right to 50Mbps (provided you’re in a digital cable area).

UPDATE 26th February 2014

The Virgin Media website should update tomorrow (27th) to reflect their headline change in broadband speeds up to 152Mbps, which will match what we posted above.

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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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