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Virgin Media UK’s FTTP Rural Community Broadband Build is Live

Monday, September 24th, 2018 (12:33 pm) - Score 3,049
virgin media test and dun valley ftth build uk

Some 640 premises in Chilbolton and Goodworth Clatford can now access Virgin Media’s Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based ultrafast broadband and TV network. These are among the first to benefit from a new community driven scheme that is extending the service to cover 12 villages in the Test and Dun Valleys of Hampshire.

As we first reported last year (here), the unique opportunity that local residents have stems from the fact that Virgin Media already owns an old cable duct along the Test Way, which is being used as a springboard to provide a “genuine all-fibre network” via their latest “full fibre” style FTTP infrastructure. Note: This still makes use of DOCSIS transmissions thanks to Radio Radio Frequency over Glass (RFoG) technology.

Local residents had previously been campaigning to get Virgin Media’s cable ISP into the area for several years (TVNeed4Speed) and happily work to build the new network finally began in March 2018 (here). The operator was able to confirm that the deployment would be commercially viable by ensuring that local residents and businesses were fully committed.

Key Criteria

* 30% or more of the residents (1,200 premises) had to register their interest;

* More than 1,000 local residents had to commit to take broadband services from Virgin Media. This was achieved with a 38% sign-up average across the valley, with some villages reaching 78%.

NOTE: The campaign FAQ suggests that locals have to pay a one-off flat-rate Network Installation fee of £300 per property, which is on top of VM’s £20 activation fee and a standard install fee of approximately £0 to £99.

The villages that stand to benefit by completion at the end of 2019 include: Houghton, West Tytherley, Broughton, Wherwell, Winterslow, Firsdown, Michelmersh, Timsbury, Kings Somborne, Goodworth Clatford, Chilbolton and Stockbridge. Overall Virgin Media is expected to fund the bulk of construction costs (estimates suggested it could cost up to £20m) and this is being complemented by support from locals.

Hugh Woolford, Regional Director at Virgin Media, said:

“We are delighted that local residents and businesses in these villages can now start to benefit from the boost our ultrafast broadband will give them. They’re the first communities in the Test and Dun Valleys to experience our incredible service and we will continue to rollout our network to more villages in the area as soon as we can.”

Cllr Phil North, Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, said:

“Access to superfast broadband for Hampshire homes and businesses is an important contributor to economic prosperity. The work of the Test Valley community and Virgin Media is very welcome indeed, demonstrating what can be achieved by residents working collaboratively to find effective broadband solutions in ‘hard to reach’ areas.”

Julie Connor, Local Resident, said:

“As we live in a rural area, we felt left behind by the technological advance happening in more urban areas and was frustrated by the lack of action from some internet providers. Virgin Media has really been on board with us from the very start and I really want to thank them for being so dedicated and approachable.”

In terms of the physical deployment, many of the villages should start to be reached this year but Houghton, Broughton, West Tytherley, Winterslow and Firsdown will have to wait until 2019. Luckily that’s not too far away now.

Virgin Media has previously spoken about the possibility of extending this sort of community-backed deployment model to other others (i.e. rural parts of the UK), although not all will be so fortunate as to have an existing optical fibre cable running nearby.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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20 Responses
  1. Avatar chris conder

    fantastic. well done Virgin.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      B4RN photos always have more mud! Suits, ties, orange shovels, no dirt anywhere – strikes 5 on the WTFometer!

  2. Avatar Matthew

    Glad to see this has worked out similar to the Gigaclear non BDUK areas

  3. Avatar Tim

    Bet you Openreach will now see this area as viable and enable the same homes for FTTC. Lol

    • Avatar Phones n stuff

      I’m pretty sure a good bit of Chilbolton has had openreach fttp for around a year now? In this area I think virgin are following OR around. Very posh area it is too.

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      The Chilbolton exchange serves a total of 650 premises NONE of them have Openreach based FTTP and only a very select few have FTTC.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      I have to call out un4h731x0rp3r0m as this is untrue.

      Chilbolton cabinet 4 covers Wherwell and parts of it have FTTP available.

      https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/broadband-map#15/51.1547/-1.4419/openreach/geafttp/

      Has the FTTP and FTTC footprint which seems very different to what you said.

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      I think you will find the GREY areas on your coverage map (The actual reported Openreach FTTP areas and not the green which are a mix and match of FTTC and FTTP so dunno why you left them enabled as they show nothing except 24+ Mb being available) MAY BE being provided by the ANDOVER exchange (despite the info you have and BT may be providing you)

      Bear with me…
      FIRST IM IGNORING ALL THE GREEN DOTS, UNLESS YOU CAN SHOW A WAY TO TELL ME WHICH ARE FTTC AND WHICH ARE MEANT TO BE FTTP.

      As an easy example as its a tiny street so less addresses (house numbers) and it has a nice GREY blob on it lets take Beech Grove in wherwell which is just off the top on the map you provided.
      The FTTP is more likely being provided via the Andover exchange despite the increased distance and despite what BTs database says. BTs database (and your exchange database) thinks Beech Grove is provided via the CHILBOLTON exchange, which i suspect (at least for FTTP) is wrong for a few reasons.

      1. The Chilbolton exchange (as i stated) only covers 650 premises in total.
      availability.samknows.com/broadband/exchange/STCHBTN
      It is NOT FTTP capable.

      2. The Andover exchange however AND IN ADDITION is actually where the example im using from your map of Beech Grove is really located (or to give it full address Beech Grove, Wherwell, Andover, SP11 7JE… google and see for yourself) is actually in the town of Andover NOT the village Chilbolton as BTs database thinks.
      Does indeed have FTTP
      availability.samknows.com/broadband/exchange/STANDVR

      Your map and services available in the area info page of thinkbroadband.com/broadband/exchanges/stchbtn
      (IE Chilbolton and what is available) is inaccurate in some aspects.

      If we look at your maps link though with one minor tweak of overlaying speedtest results also we get this…
      labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/broadband-map#15/51.1547/-1.4419/test/openreach/geafttp/

      What is that 138Mbps test… Click, Oh its Virgin Media. Oh hang on Chilbolton … thinkbroadband.com/broadband/exchanges/stchbtn
      Does not have Virgin cable?????????

      I do not see any CONFIRMED FTTP speed tests so i assume your info is based on what BT have provided for the area, which would be nice if they could even get their TOWNS RIGHT FOR ADDRESSES LOL

      As for…..

      “I have to call out un4h731x0rp3r0m as this is untrue.”
      Oh to live in a glass house and think you have all the data and only your data is right… Lets see what else is wrong shall we…
      Maybe i am wrong but based on the data you seem to be presenting for that area that can easily be argued to be inaccruate/untrue/outdated (pick as you wish) also. All the green blobs appear to be FTTC from what i can see and the grey seem to be addresses located in the town of ANDOVER not village of CHILBOLTON.

      If the small pocket of FTTP addresses in Wherwell are coming from the Chilbolton exchange perhaps you could explain why they did not bother doing the most populated part of Chilbolton (IE the village where most of its 1000 or so residents actually live) or anything even close to the exchange? All the green blobs appear to be FTTC.

      You may also want to re-colour some of your blobs.
      labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/broadband-map#15/51.1547/-1.4419/test/openreach/geafttp/

      Clicking on the 12Mb test brings up 2 tests…
      Test1. A result of 11.7Mb Down and 8.9Mbps up…. ISP unidentified, but based on the upload rate i assume thats a FTTC/VDSL connection… Even more so as its basically on top of one of those pretty green blobs.
      Pity about the download though and it having a green blob which errr hold on is spose to be 24+Mb VDSL area is it NOT? Funny looking 24+Mb that guy/gal is getting. Ah BT GUESSTIMATE data, wonderful!!! Best go alter that to a yellow blob LOL
      2. The other test irrelevant to this is obviously a ADSL BT connection 12.7Mb down and 0.9Mbps up

      Data, wonderful stuff providing all what is presented is accurate eh?

    • Less of the snide remark trolling please un4h731x0rp3r0m. You could easily have questioned Andrew’s response more constructively, with fewer paragraphs and without the argumentative gibberish tone in-between. People would then be more likely to appreciate your input.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      On the black spots which in this case are postcodes with FTTP http://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/broadband-map#15/51.1673/-1.4375/geafttp/ and also ADSL/ADSL2+, the reason the Chilbolton exchange is reported is because those postcodes are still served by the copper from Chilbolton the overlay of FTTP is parented to a different exchange (not looked it up) but it is normal to continue reporting the original exchange.

      For Fibre Only premises things are reported differently, in those cases the exchange may be 20km away.

      If you are ignoring all the green dots, then you are ignoring the majority of Goodworth Clatford and Chilbolton where the village centres are served by VDSL2.

      As for why Openreach/council did what they did on FTTP – ask them.

      The unknown one is Fleur Telecom (https://www.thinkbroadband.com/speedtest/1530696624435260255) and they have a variable upload and given the test results leaning towards someone with a network interface connecting at only 10 Mbps limiting throughput or as we see sometimes people trolling the datasets. It does not look like congestion.

      So yes data is wonderful and the key is interpretation which a lot of time is spent on, hence why users speed tests are not taken as gospel unless there is a clear pattern over a longer period of time and in this case the other results within a short distance indicate VDSL2 is performing as expected.

      As for https://www.thinkbroadband.com/broadband/exchanges/stchbtn not mentioning Virgin Media, the virgin coverage was new today, and the services list for the exchanges will be getting updated over night.

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      “Less of the snide remark trolling please un4h731x0rp3r0m. You could easily have questioned Andrew’s response more constructively”

      I apologise to both you Mark and Andrew if it came across as unconstructive. The response was constructive IMO given the poster before myself claimed …a good bit of Chilbolton has had openreach fttp for around a year now” Which A. Is inaccurate B. As pointed out those premises covered (VERY few) are likely served from another exchange when it comes to FTTP and C. It is far, far, far as shown by Andrews own map anywhere near “a good few which are served. I do however conceed the response was long winded, but i thought it important to make clear what i was saying to prevent confusion.

      “the reason the Chilbolton exchange is reported is because those postcodes are still served by the copper from Chilbolton the overlay of FTTP is parented to a different exchange (not looked it up) but it is normal to continue reporting the original exchange.”

      So pretty as original “The Chilbolton exchange serves a total of 650 premises NONE of them have Openreach based FTTP and only a very select few have FTTC.”

      Ill conceed and agree there may be a few in the area which the Chilbolton exchange serves with copper services, but as for FTTP coming from Chilbolton exchange it seems highly unlikely. It certainly is not a “good few” in any scheme, regardless.

      I think it is important to point this out as the poster before myself was trying to claim a good number in Chilbolton have had FTTP for over a year, when clearly they have not and technically speaking the properties on the boundry which have FTTP are likely served by a different exchange. I feel/felt that was important to point out to people. We would not want people living there to suddenly wonder why they can not have FTTP would we. I am truely sorry if my response to you came across in a rude tone or any type of unpolite manner, it seemed you were initially agree with the poster before myself.

      “If you are ignoring all the green dots, then you are ignoring the majority of Goodworth Clatford and Chilbolton where the village centres are served by VDSL2.”

      Yep was ignoring them as i assume they are for the most part VDSL2 aka FTTC. They are not from what i could tell any Openreach FTTP green dots in Chilbolton.

      “The unknown one is Fleur Telecom”

      Interesting, never heard of them before looking at their website their “fibre” products appear to be FTTC fleurtelecom.co.uk/products/fleur-fibre-unlimited-broadband/ (diagram near bottom and the 5x faster claim)
      Regardless I will agree with you based on the distance that speedtest is from the exchange technically they should be managing green dot (24MB+) status rather than actual result (IE yellow dot and 4-23Mb which they are getting). Why that is as you say could be for a number of reasons and ill admit i was a bit sarcastic at that point in my post, technically speaking though that is conflicting data… One data point saying what should be possible and the speed test showing something else, ill conceed it could be down to the user though.

      “As for https://www.thinkbroadband.com/broadband/exchanges/stchbtn not mentioning Virgin Media, the virgin coverage was new today, and the services list for the exchanges will be getting updated over night.”

      I do not expect things to be perfect Andrew and to be honest i imagine getting precise Virgin location info is even harder than it is for some Openreach data (far more sources online to check Openreach data)…. The samknows data on for Chilbolton is also technically wrong with regards to Virgin. Interesting someone who technically is in Chilbolton has VM (assuming they selected the right ISP for the 138Mb speedtest) already.

      Makes you wonder how much of this is actually “new” from Virgin and what will just be infill/easy (relatively speaking) expansion.

      Again sincere apologies for any hard feelings, and anything which was interpreted as rudeness etc. The post was supposed to challenge validity of data (not yours per say but what you collect and/or is reported to yourself) and how/where errors can lay, nothing more.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      On the Virgin Media speed test given the test was done on 23rd September this ties in very nicely with the PR being published i.e. not uncommon to see one or two tests from new areas just before PR arrives.

      So it seems that the network is live for some people, which was the whole point of what Mark wrote and not a case of old virgin footprint being expanded upon.

      If there are errors (Rather than differences of opinion in how its presented) then feel free to report the specific postcode after checking using https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/postcode-search

      e.g. SP11 7JD
      Ultrafast Openreach FTTP is available, speeds range from 40 Mbps to 1000 Mbps
      BT Wholesale ADSL2+ based services are available from your exchange.

      SO20 6AE
      Ultrafast Virgin Media Project Lightning FTTP is thought to be available, with speed options from 50 Mbps to 300 Mbps.
      Fibre (FTTC) is possibly available and speeds will likely be above 30 Mbps, see the latest offers.
      BT Wholesale ADSL2+ based services are available from your exchange.

      And on the FTTP there are some more old Chilbolton postcodes I am finding with FTTP available and guess what BT Wholesale and Openreach are saying the exchange is Chilbolton

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      Good to hear the 138Mb Virgin test was a recent one for the area and people are online in Chilbolton you could add a nice green tick to..
      http://www.thinkbroadband.com/broadband/exchanges/stchbtn
      for people now.

      “And on the FTTP there are some more old Chilbolton postcodes I am finding with FTTP available and guess what BT Wholesale and Openreach are saying the exchange is Chilbolton”

      I would take the BT/Openreach database with a pinch of salt as to what BT/Openreach services are being supplied via the Chilbolton exchange, especially with regards to FTTP.

      Currently (i assume due to the BT database) you have the thinkbroadband.com/broadband/exchanges/stchbtn on your site showing FTTP as available from the Chilbolton exchange. Which if the BT database is accurate would be correct… However a little logic dictates some of the premises particularly for FTTP which the BT database reports as coming from the Chilbolton exchange is highly unlikely.
      This is the Chilbolton Telephone exchange…
      https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.1576648,-1.4427495,3a,60y,29.83h,83.85t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sImH8p-axC9VBKVQt4xJS0A!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en

      1. Is that likely to be serving more than a few hundred premises IMO NO
      2. Is an exchange like that, likely to be supplying FTTP to grey/black blobs in the Wherwell area on your map, https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/broadband-map#15/51.1565/-1.4418/geafttp/ I doubt it.
      3. When you feed the BT database a postcode which comes back as an address in ANDOVER (your SP11 7JD is a good example) but the BT database reports the Chilbolton exchange as serving that property with FTTP is that likely or is it more likely that the ANDOVER exchange based on that fact of the address of the postcode being Andover and the fact the Chilbolton exchange is tiny compared to the Andover one.
      4. Is it actually more likely what the BT database is doing for FTTP is (again to use the SP11 7JD postcode) reporting the nearest exchange to that postcode as serving the premises at the postcode with FTTP rather than the actual exchange which is serving FTTP services? (Again that would make sense and line in with what you said IE “the reason the Chilbolton exchange is reported is because those postcodes are still served by the copper from Chilbolton the overlay of FTTP is parented to a different exchange”

      Me personally i would remove the Green Tick from thinkbroadband.com/broadband/exchanges/stchbtn with regards to FTTP. Every other site online ive looked at with Telephone exchange info EG Samknows, telephone-exchanges.co.uk and more despite what BTs database thinks/says say NO for FTTP at Chilbolton exchange.

      PS…
      With regards to postcodes you are finding/checking SP10 and SP11 (the entire range AFAIK) are all Andover Postcodes, not Chilbolton, it would be interesting though to continue checking to find out just how many of the THOUSANDS in the SP range BT database says are being served Chilbolton exchange which logic due to its size says it can do no more than a few hundred and it would have to do those IN addition to Chilbolton ACTUAL postcodes which i think you will find for 90% all start SO20.

  4. Avatar Andrew Ferguson

    You know what, my time is worth more than being wasted engaging with you and others on this site…goodbye for a while.

  5. Avatar Fastman

    un4h731x0rp3r0m

    unhelpful

    andrew is one of the good guys

  6. Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

    [admin note: removed more trolling]

    • Avatar Gadget

      I think the point at issue is that the people living in exchange area may well have services which are not provided by the exchange building itself, but from other locations.
      Whilst traditionally most voice service is provided from the exchange (although not exclusively because there are Out-of-area exchange lines) digital services may be physically housed in other locations.
      So if a user in THE CHILBOLTON EXCHANGE AREA orders FTTP (regardless of where it ultimately is supplied from) they are still located within the exchange area and so customers in the Chilbolton exchange area may well have access to FTTP services even though the local exchange is not supplying them, but that’s where they live, not where the supplying equipment is located.

    • Avatar Lardy

      Openreach FTTP
      Yes enabled (not all premises may be able to get FTTP on the exchange)

      Are all you good people looking at a different website, as it says this for me?

  7. Avatar Phones n stuff

    Lol, glad I could be of service here. I think some people need to get out more.

    I posted because I attended a knees up in Chilbolton a few weeks back, we were surprised at the Internet connection being so fast in a remote location. We had a conversation with the locals about fttp and virgin. The locals showed me the new boxes on the telegraph poles, and we saw a few holes in the ground guarded off with virgin signs. That’s it, nothing more nothing less. Where it comes from I couldn’t give a monkeys.

    We enjoyed our time in the area so much we are returning next month to the same rental. If it helps, I’ll carry out a speed test whilst we are there.

    Have a nice day all x

  8. Avatar A_Builder

    @un4h731x0rp3r0m

    You do have a point as to the transparency of publicly available data sets. All data can be interpreted differently.

    I sense that what you are writing comes from frustration at your particular connectivity lot.

    @ Andrew Ferguson

    I agree with most of what you write. However, as anyone who presents data has to be open minded as to alternative interpretation of that data set.

    My comment would be that sensible debate on this site is read in very many places to an extent that would surprise a lot of those who post. And has a surprising impact on forming policy and viewpoints both in corporate and public policy.

    If we are engaging in poorly expressed arguments that nobody pays any attention to the thread. Which is a shame as there otherwise is good material and thinking expressed.

    On the other hand well expressed polite debate that is well informed carries great weight. There are a lot of people on here with real world experience of getting things done and it shows. And this can serve to move thinking forwards.

    That is my tuppenny worth.

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