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Ignore Virgin Media’s UK Cable Network Expansion Letters at Your Peril

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017 (2:26 pm) - Score 11,262

Most of us have become so familiar with the postman delivering marketing letters from the big ISPs that we now bin them without a second thought. One problem with this is that sometimes those letters carry important information, such when Virgin Media intend to dig up your pavement.

At present Virgin Media are conducting a huge £3bn network expansion (Project Lightning) to reach an additional 4 million properties by 2019, which means that around 60-65% of homes and businesses across the United Kingdom should soon be able to take their 300Mbps capable broadband and TV services.

As part of that the operator typically writes letters to local residents in order to inform them of their plans for the area and what work will need to be done, such as digging up local roads and pavements. At this point anybody with a concern can raise the issue, but a few people are being caught out because they overlook the letters (i.e. assuming them to be the same old junk as usual).

For example, some residents of Balloch and Craigmarloch in Scotland have recently been complaining after they returned home to find a lot of disruption around their property and a poor quality of remedial work (here).

Barry McCulloch, Cumbernauld North Councillor, said:

“I am urging everyone to ensure that if they get a letter from Virgin, they open it and read it. It might just be advertising, but it could be to tell you that cables are due to be installed in your street.

I know of some residents who have contacted Virgin to tell them not to dig on their property, but other people have been surprised to find their driveways being dug up.

A Virgin Media Spokesperson said:

“While we continue to expand our fibre broadband network to more homes across the country, we endeavour to minimise disruption for the local communities.

In this case we have received one defect notice and we apologise to North Lanarkshire Council and the local residents affected by the streetworks carried out by contract partners on behalf of Virgin Media.

We are working with our contractors to ensure that all work is carried out with professionalism and at the highest standard, and to safeguard against such mistakes in the future.”

Such disruption is generally a small price to pay if it means gaining access to much better broadband connectivity, although naturally the work must be completed properly. However ISPs should take some of the blame for situations like the one above as if they didn’t put out so much junk then people might be more inclined to actually open the letters.

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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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14 Responses
  1. CarlT says:

    Hmm. I seriously doubt that VM would habitually dig on people’s property. The occasional error for sure, but not routine.


    I fully imagine some people with dropped kerbs may think that they own the pavement once their crossing has been constructed – they don’t. This is simply wrong. VM require specific permission from property owners to build, they don’t assume it’s fine.

    The councillor has no idea what he’s talking about. The people complaining about VM digging ‘their’ driveways have no idea what they’re talking about.

  2. CarlT says:

    Confirmed. This is a non-story. A wander down the street mentioned, Lansdowne Drive, shows plenty of dropped kerbs. People think these are ‘their’ driveways which they are not. They are public pathway.

    Just to reiterate the default position is absolutely not that VM can dig on private property unless the owners object, they require explicit approval in writing in the form of a wayleave.

    1. Peter says:

      I long for the day when a firm like VM in similar circumstances rather than pumping out some soothing PR guff instead comes out and simply says the councillor is a f*king moron and clearly a thick as pig sheet.

      I suspect I’ll be waiting a long time in these days of easily offended snowflakes for this to happen.

      There are very rare circumstances where a utility company can dig on private property where no wayleave agreement can be reached. This is in the rare occasion that there is simply no viable alternative route and the service being laid is deemed as being provided for the “general public good”.

      I certainly know of one such possible situation ongoing at present where BT has “announced” it is putting a piece of kit on land (via a planning application which they said could not be objected to) which is indeed private.
      They have been told I understand (as has the local council planning) in no uncertain terms that it is private and no they will not under any circumstances be allowed to put it there.

  3. Dave says:

    VM can did up my driveway anytime. (If they know were Cornwall is) Or prephaps I could have a mobile transmitter or even TV mast. I got plenty of space. Anything to get some sort of service!

    1. CarlT says:

      VM have core network in Cornwall so who knows what might happen?

  4. 3G Infinity says:

    find your nearest EE tower, it will get 800MHz 4G for the Police, Fire and Ambulance and so your newer EE handset should be okay

    1. TWKND says:

      Wrong post?

  5. Mark says:

    I’m pretty sure by now they don’t know what properties are to benefit from “Project Lightning”. A month or so ago the cablemystreet site said that they were coming to our street. Now it’s saying “We’re still planning where we’re going”. Make up your mind Virgin Media!

  6. Dan Spurr says:

    hey Virgin Media, I recieve all your marketing materials and am standing ready with bank account details for the second one of your engineers puts a flyer through my door saying that the 80ft of cable needed to connect the complex’s green box to your network has finally been done 80ft of cable and another 90 properties connected seems a no brain to me

  7. Stephen says:

    I would let Virgin Media dig through my living room if it meant I could get fibre!!!!!

  8. Darren says:

    VM PR team in full force lol

    This is really bad who do VM think they are! They can stay away from my property, could not pay me to use their sub-standard copper network.

  9. Diana says:

    We have just had this letter and I read every word. If you agree, then they are given the legal right to require you to give 6 months notice if you are going to alter your property near whatever they have put in your land. Seems a bit odd to me.

  10. Chrissy says:

    I received a letter and lost it before replying.
    Does anyone know who I can contact?

  11. Dan says:

    I live in Swansea and love to get Virgin Media.
    They have cabled my area, literally down the street,
    but didn’t dig up a little hill to my home in a desirable area,
    heaven knows why not.
    I’m praying they release an exact map of project lightening soon.

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