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Virgin Media Plan FTTP Broadband for 69K Wrexham and Chester Premises

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016 (5:40 pm) - Score 2,910

Cable operator Virgin Media has revealed that some 45,000 homes and businesses in Chester (Cheshire, England) and 24,000 in Wrexham (North Wales) will be among the next to gain access to their ‘up to’ 300Mbps broadband and TV bundles, which is part of their on-going £3bn Project Lightning network expansion.

Virgin’s expansion aims to make their predominantly urban cable and fibre optic network available to 60-65% of the United Kingdom / 17 million premises by 2019 (here), which is up from around 45% in 2014. Most of the 4 million extra premises will be reached by their hybrid-fibre and coax DOCSIS network, although over 1 million of those should get a pure fibre optic FTTP connection.

The announcement today confirms that Virgin’s deployment into both Chester and Wrexham, which is due to complete by the end of 2017, will be done using the superior Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) technology via Radio Frequency over Glass (RFoG) in order to retain compatibility with their wider DOCSIS cable network.

Interestingly the expansion into Wrexham has only been possible because of Virgin Media’s planned move into Chester, which makes it easier to connect nearby locations. As a bonus Wrexham will become the first town in North Wales to receive such large FTTP coverage, with other existing deployments from BT tending to be at a smaller scale (note: BT recently announced a plan to add 2 million FTTP premises, so this may change).

Ian Lucas, MP for Wrexham, said:

“I am absolutely delighted at Virgin Media’s announcement of their investment in an entirely new broadband network in Wrexham. It is a huge vote of confidence in Wrexham and its future. This is a private sector investment of enormous significance. It will further increase Wrexham’s appeal as a location for business and is a massive boost for jobs and growth. Both businesses and individual consumers will benefit.

When I put forward the case for Virgin Broadband and Project Lightning to come to Wrexham in a Select Committee hearing to its Chief Executive, Tom Mockridge, at the end of last year, I was confident Wrexham had an excellent case for this investment in its future. I am very grateful indeed that Virgin Media has shared my enthusiasm and have worked so well with Lee Robinson and his Economic Development Team at Wrexham Council to make this happen.”

Chris Matheson, MP for the City of Chester, said:

“I’m very happy to hear that tens of thousands of homes and businesses in and around Chester will soon have access to the fastest broadband. I have been pushing hard to improve super-fast broadband connectivity across Chester so it is great to see this investment in our city’s future.”

Apparently the roll-out in Chester is due to begin during early 2017 and the first areas to benefit will be Blacon and Huntington. Likewise Virgin expect to begin the Wrexham deployment towards the end of this year and the first areas to benefit will be in the Acton Park area, following by the Wrexham Industrial Estate, Wrexham Technology Park and also the villages of Llay, Rossett, Coedpoeth and Gwersyllt as well as Wrexham town centre.

As usual Virgin Media will also attempt to focus their roll-out on the areas that show most demand. Locals can register their interest by visiting http://virginmedia.com/cablemystreet .

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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.
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