» ISP News » 

Virgin Media Expand UK Network to Cambridgeshire Village, But is it FTTP?

Friday, August 8th, 2014 (12:45 pm) - Score 3,423

Virgin Media has confirmed to ISPreview.co.uk that a “small-scale development” is currently underway and in the “early stages” of expanding superfast broadband and TV (but not phone) services into the large village of Papworth Everard near the city of Cambridge, but will it be a 152Mbps coax (DOCSIS) or 300Mbps Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network?

The development, which follows hot on the heels of Virgin Media’s new plan to cover an additional 100,000 premises in East London (here), is in fact one of several new and non-London developments that we’ve recently queried with Virgin, but the operator has so far chosen not to say anything of substance in reply.

Papworth Everard has a population of around 3,000 and is perhaps unique among most villages because Virgin Media’s infrastructure already passes through the area, although until now locals haven’t been able to directly benefit and previously there were no plans to deploy anything. Instead locals have been getting broadband via the remote Papworth St Agnes telephone exchange and some should just be within reach of FTTC.

Never the less residents last year began a campaign to improve local connectivity and now some have noticed Virgin Media engineers are at the end of their drives digging the road up, building new grey boxes around the area and laying green pipes for cables. A query by one such individual extracted the following response.

Virgin Media’s Engineer Team

Thank you for your enquiry to cable my street.

Varrier Jones Drive is part of an active project to bring Virgin Media services to Papworth Everard.

Your street will be one of the first to receive our broadband and TV services and we hope to be in a position to schedule an order early October. Regrettably our telephone services will not be provided.

We will be carrying out a PR campaign during the next few weeks and hopefully this will help with any questions you have, however please do not hesitate in contacting us back for assistance.

Kindest regards


The lack of a phone service is interesting because, despite coming into homes via a separate cable on Virgin’s setup, most would still normally expect such a line to be provided as standard (especially as most of Virgin’s TV bundles are triple-play). Interestingly when one of the residents asked what the engineers were doing, the reply came back that a Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network offering speeds of up to 300Mbps was being built and would be live within 6-8 weeks time.

ISPreview.co.uk has heard a bundle of reports about FTTP /FTTLA solutions being rolled out by Virgin in specific areas over the past few weeks and, aside from a 2010 FTTH trial in Woolhampton (here), the only firm reply we’ve ever been able to secure is that “we’re always looking at new things and trialling new approaches“. At the same time it’s curious that FTTP with a speed of 300Mbps would be used, which appears to mirror BT’s own GPON based FTTP service.

In this instance Virgin chose not to directly answer our questions about the technology being deployed (you’d expect them to say if it was DOCSIS, so this in itself is a bit odd) and instead said, “when we are closer to homes actually being serviceable we’ll have further details for you“. We pressed them on the FTTP aspect a second time but have had no reply.

At this point we’d like to stress that the fibre optic cables could just be for the capacity supply, since Virgin’s DOCSIS / FTTN is setup a bit like FTTC, but the engineers description appears to be quite specific and at odds with that of a normal hybrid fibre approach. The service might also be a new approach similar to BT’s FTTrn/dp. Either way Virgin Media aren’t merely expanding their network in urban areas.

Incidentally the work itself is being carried out by John Henry Communications.

Share with Twitter
Share with Linkedin
Share with Facebook
Share with Reddit
Share with Pinterest
Tags: ,
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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
15 Responses
  1. Captain Cretin says:

    “John Henry”

    Wasnt he the AI computer in “The Sarah Conner Chronicles”???

    IS this part of Skynet, I think we should be told!!!!

  2. Steve Jones says:

    It would make sense to implement new networks using FTTP rather than coax. I suspect the costs will be similar.

    When the cable franchises were placed, the onus was (analogue) cable TV using a very simple broadcast topology. It was based on US practices (and US companies).

    Of course the complication with a completely new fibre-based network topology is that all the support systems, technology, set-top boxes and the like. Maybe this it to be a trial site for future extension of the network. VM might want to keep the details secret until they are ready to announce.

    If it is an FTTP network, that doesn’t mean there’s no phone. It’s easy enough to provide such a service over fibre with suitable terminating equipment.

  3. adslmax says:

    There is no way Virgin Media will do 300Mbps. No chance. At the moment it only offering 152Mbps service. So, it must be BT FTTP 300/30.

    1. FTTH says:

      @adslmax – I would suggest that Virgin would unlikely dig roads to deliver BT Services 😉

    2. James Harrison says:

      You do realise that on their existing copper they can in practice do 1G and should soon be able to do 10G services? DOCSIS 3+ is pretty decent, performance-wise. Upgrades should only require cabinet improvements.

      Fibre is a sensible move, though – as noted the costs will be similar or potentially even lower than coaxial copper.

  4. finaldest says:

    I would assume its a coax delivery system due to no phone offering however FTTP could offer phone services. It’s most likely that VM don’t feel its viable to extend the phone network.

    I suppose its possible that VM are trialling FTTP as an alternative to costly street cabs or it could be a potential trial to look at upgrading the entire network to FTTP however that is wishful thinking.

    Guess we will have to wait and see.

    1. Steve Jones says:

      If Openreach can provide voice-over-fibre using FTTP, I’m sure VM would have no trouble doing it either. From a consumer point of view, all that happens is the phone extensions are plugged into a port on the optical network terminator.

      If would be commercially crazy for VM to provide a video/broadband service yet require customers who want a regular fixed voice line to rent one from a service provider using the BT network.

      (Of course there’s the option to use VOIP, but that doesn’t suit everybody, especially if they want to retain their existing phone extension system and equipment).

      All rather speculative of course, as we don’t know if this is a fibre trial, but it would make sense for new builds.


    2. Steve Jones says:

      nb. I should add that I’m talking about voice-over-fibre in the slightly longer term. A trial might just start with video/broadband.

  5. Jim says:

    Will Virgin media cover the summersfield estate in Papworth Everard …i.e the new home development of Barrat / Dawid Wilson of around 300 homes and growing. If you are seeing this Virgin please do!!
    We still have super slow 0.5mb download speeds on old copper and no coverage of BT fibre network

    1. Rich says:

      I asked cablemystreet@virginmedia.co.uk and unfortunately this is the response I got regarding the Summers Field estate.
      Thank you for your enquiry regarding Virgin Media providing digital services at your home.

      Unfortunately for us to make this area serviceable with digital services would be too expensive and would cost more than our current budget allows, so therefore cannot be considered to be upgraded by our infill activity at this time.

      As we find new ways of serving areas such as this that are outwith the existing network, we will look at your request further and may be able to include this in build programmes in future years. However at this time, we will not be able to provide cable service to this area.

      I appreciate this is not good news, but be assured our team will continue to look for other solutions that may help us achieve this in the future.

      Best regards

      The Cablemystreet Team
      Virgin Media | 1 South Gyle Crescent Lane , Edinburgh EH12 9EG

    2. fastman2 says:

      David have you had any conversatio with your developer as whether they may consider looking at helping to fund broadband , a number of developer are already looking at thi

  6. Michael says:

    A couple of years ago Virgin were experimenting with the RoFG version of FTTP as it had different characteristics to Digital domain FTTP. Different termination for CPE though, and with the OFCOM ruling on battery back-up units for voice services over fibre it could be that a number of tech and economic issues are still at play, making it difficult to commit to deliver “lifeline” voice services to residential customers.

  7. Chris Conder says:

    whoohoo! great news. if this trial works then they could scoop the pot with all the other villages where BT fear to tread. If they aren’t doing phone then it must be fibre, with free voip phone lines from any provider you like. excellent.

    1. Ignitionnet says:

      VM aren’t going to start deploying fibre to villages all over the place, Chris.

      Papworth Everard is a specific case, VM have a hubsite nearby hence a duct network through the village, it’s a trial.

      If it goes to live deployment there are a ton of places VM have ducting but don’t deliver services. These are going to be the priority over deploying FTTP at £2k+ / premises passed to rural areas.

  8. boggits says:

    We’ve looked at rfog for a couple of projects and its very interesting. Major issue as mentioned is the cost of the battery if you want to do voice ans comply with ofcom regs. They were more expensive than the cpe and only rated for two years deployment.

Comments are closed.

Comments RSS Feed

Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Vodafone £19.50 (*22.50)
    Speed 38Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • NOW £20.00 (*32.00)
    Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Hyperoptic £20.00 (*25.00)
    Speed 50Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: Promo Code: HYPERFALL21
  • Shell Energy £21.99 (*30.99)
    Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Plusnet £22.00 (*38.20)
    Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: £70 Reward Card
Large Availability | View All
Cheapest Ultrafast ISPs
  • Gigaclear £24.00 (*49.00)
    Speed: 300Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Vodafone £24.00 (*27.00)
    Speed: 100Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Community Fibre £25.00 (*27.50)
    Speed: 200Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Hyperoptic £25.00 (*35.00)
    Speed: 150Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: Promo Code: HYPERFALL21
  • Virgin Media £28.00 (*52.00)
    Speed: 108Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
Large Availability | View All
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. FTTP (3570)
  2. BT (3023)
  3. Politics (1941)
  4. Building Digital UK (1929)
  5. FTTC (1888)
  6. Openreach (1837)
  7. Business (1693)
  8. Mobile Broadband (1480)
  9. Statistics (1410)
  10. FTTH (1365)
  11. 4G (1277)
  12. Fibre Optic (1174)
  13. Virgin Media (1173)
  14. Wireless Internet (1163)
  15. Ofcom Regulation (1149)
  16. Vodafone (846)
  17. EE (835)
  18. 5G (772)
  19. TalkTalk (769)
  20. Sky Broadband (747)
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact