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ISP Virgin Media UK to Build FTTP Broadband in East Grinstead

Friday, February 21st, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 3,262

The large West Sussex town of East Grinstead, which is home to around 27,000 people, looks set to be the next to benefit from Virgin Media’s new gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network, which will start in the south of the town but then rapidly expand across the outer area.

Sadly these days the only roll-out announcements we get from Virgin Media tend to be quite piecemeal and usually occur after their deployment has finished, rather than before it begins, which makes it difficult for people to know whether or not they’ll benefit from the operator or should go with an alternative (planning ahead).

In that sense it’s nice to be able to report on one of their deployments before it begins (credits to Lewis for spotting). Judging by the current plans, work in East Grinstead is in the early process of getting started and if all goes to plan then they expect to cover 3,000 of its premises during 2020.

As usual this effort forms part of Virgin Media’s £3bn Project Lightning build, which originally aimed to add an additional 4 million premises to their UK coverage (so far they’ve completed c.2.1 million) using a mix of FTTP via Radio Frequency Over Glass (RFoG) and Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) technology. Both methods make use of the DOCSIS standard so as to harness the same consumer hardware.

Locals in the town will eventually also be able to benefit from download speeds of up to 1Gbps once the DOCSIS 3.1 network upgrade arrives, which is due to complete by 2021 (here). East Grinstead is the last of the big towns in the mid Sussex region to be reached by Virgin Media.

Separately the operator recently announced that 1,400 premises in Saughall (Chester, Cheshire) can now also access their network following an extension.

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9 Responses
  1. Avatar Somerset

    No mention of the VM build in Weston-super-Mare.

    • I’ve mentioned the Weston-super-mare build in passing before, last year. I’m not sure why you keep bringing that one up, it’s quite well known (we’re awaiting the completion of it) and there are many VM build areas. No more spamming please.

    • Avatar Somerset

      Only the 2nd time, I think! Didn’t remember seeing in an article.

  2. Avatar Lewis

    Looking forward to increased competition in town. Some areas have robust FTTC but other areas (mostly built in the 70s) have poor quality &/or long lines. In just a month we’ve gone from no FTTP to multiple options on the horizon.

    Now I need to decide whether to hold out for OpenReach’s announced FTTP or go with Virgin! Seems the pricing for mid-high tier options are similar.

    Separately, East Grinstead is a notable exception from West Sussex’s Gigabit Project. Given the geography, it often feels like EG is a forgotten corner of West Sussex with the county town absolutely miles away and if it wasn’t for Crawley being relatively close, would make more sense to be back in East Sussex.

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      It is my understanding that currently East Grinstead is not currently included in the LA sponsored spine projects. However at a meeting on 14th January MidSussex voted to join the West Sussex Rates Pool (which attracts Government funding) and as part of that Members were promised that “the pool would enable investment in a fibre spine across the West Sussex area. This, in turn, would facilitate quicker roll out of full fibre and 5G technologies” following a question specifically related to East Grinstead and villages they were assured “the fibre optic spine would be a scaffold from which a whole range of connections could be made. The spine would run throughout rural West Sussex.” No mention of existing Fibre connectivity for the town or proposed commercial activities. Whether ISPs are likely to utilise this spine at all will be down to the OR and VM timescales.

  3. Avatar Sam

    They need to rollout more across West Sussex. A lot of it isn’t covered by VM!

  4. Avatar Dan

    I suspect that the announcement after the fact would be to avoid the over saturation and aggressive sales by other ISPs any forewarning would bring, thus improving penetration rates when complete.

  5. Avatar Noel

    In the 90s, the cable company for nearby Crawley Eurobell, laid a fibre link to East Grinstead along a former railway line which I think linked up with their operation in Tunbridge Wells. This may have been in anticipation of getting the contract to cable East Grinstead.

    CATV grids appeared in my village on the outskirts and we anticipated being hooked up to the system, a particularly attractive prospect as ADSL in our area is dire.

    The cable authority subsequently awarded the contract to another operator who neer lived up to their commitments.

    • Avatar FibreBubble

      The original CATV franchise for E Grinstead was awarded to ‘The Convergence Group plc’ from what I can remember which were something to do with Eurobell / Deutsch Telecom.

      They trailed a proof of concept wireless CATV system that ran 2meg circuits to a dish on the customer premises from kit on top of Martlets Heights in Burgess Hill.

      After the trial finished the Radio Authority thanked them and allocated the frequencies to someone else. Convergence spent time in the courts with the Radio Authority and building a wireless trunk service known as Silk Route in Asia before going pop.

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