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Hertfordshire Stall Virgin Media Network Expansion Over Repairs

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018 (7:52 am) - Score 1,583
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A sizeable backlog of repairs has reportedly caused the Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) in England to restrict the expansion of Virgin Media UK’s ultrafast cable broadband ISP and TV network in the area (£3bn Project Lighting), at least until they can get the situation under control.

The problems came to light after the mayor of Bishop’s Stortford, Colin Woodward, decided to chase the HCC over a particular Highway issue. In response the council informed him that they had “restrictedVirgin Media from “expanding its network in the County” because they felt the operator “shouldn’t expand what it cannot maintain.”

In addition, Colin informed his Facebook followers that HCC are holding “performance meetings with [Virgin] every fortnight to reduce the number of outstanding highway defects they have.” Last year Surrey County Council took a similar position against the cable operator due to “poor workmanship.” Virgin have also had a few problems in Scotland (here) and Cumbria (here).

A Spokesperson for HCC said (here):

“Hertfordshire County Council has had some concerns about Virgin Media’s highway apparatus maintenance programme and the number of defect repairs currently outstanding.

However, they are responding positively to our concerns and have agreed to a reduction in their planned network expansion programme so they can concentrate on addressing the defect backlog.”

Meanwhile a spokesperson for Virgin Media confirmed that the operator was “in the process of completing corrective works in some areas,” which they said is “normal protocol and will be carried out to the highest standards in accordance with the local council.” The operator also apologised for any “inconvenience this has caused.”

Building new fibre optic network infrastructure is often a highly disruptive, as well as expensive, exercise and Virgin Media are by no means alone in causing the occasional problem for communities (we’ve seen similar stories concerning Cityfibre, Openreach (BT) and others over the years).

In the end such disruption is often a small price to pay for gaining access to an ultrafast broadband network and boosting local competition at infrastructure level. Unfortunately correcting shoddy workmanship by third-party contractors can also add to the overall costs of such deployments. At least in this case the restriction is only temporary, until the backlog of defects is under control.

Otherwise Virgin Media are continuing their work to reach an additional 4 million premises by the end of 2019 or 2020 (roughly 60%+ UK coverage via a total of 17 million premises), which will use a mix of FTTP and Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) based EuroDOCSIS technology.

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