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Virgin Media UK Switch-On 1Gbps Broadband in West Midlands UPDATE

Friday, February 28th, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 9,473

Cable and full fibre ISP Virgin Media (Liberty Global) has today announced that, effective from “early” March 2020, more than 1 million homes across Birmingham, Coventry and surrounding areas in the West Midlands (England) will gain access to their new 1104Mbps (52Mbps upload) – Gig1Fibre – broadband speed upgrade.

At present nearly all of Virgin Media’s customers can already access top ultrafast speeds of over 500Mbps via their existing Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based network using EuroDOCSIS 3.0 technology. Meanwhile the boost to Gigabit speeds is all thanks to the latest DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade.

NOTE: D3.1 boosts performance by utilising technologies such as Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), which can encode data by using multiple carrier frequencies, and quadrupling the amount of radio spectrum (up to 200MHz) etc.

So far around 1 million premises (2 million from next month) have already gained access to this upgrade across significant parts of Berkshire, Hampshire and Buckinghamshire (e.g. Greater Manchester, Southampton, Reading and many surrounding areas), while the rest of their network (currently 15 million premises) is planned to follow by the end of 2021.

Customers who take out the related Gig1Fibre package will be sent a new HUB 4.0 (TG3492LG-VMB / Gigabit Connect Box) router and you can see the specification for that at the bottom of this article from September 2019. You cannot get faster than their 500Mbps tier without the HUB 4.0 because the existing Hub 3.0 doesn’t support DOCSIS 3.1.

Jeff Dodds, COO at Virgin Media, said:

“Virgin Media is delivering on its promises, putting its money where its mouth is and bringing next-generation broadband to its entire network. Switching on gigabit speeds for more than a million homes in the West Midlands, the UK’s largest gigabit rollout to date, will be a leap forward for the region and a big step for the Government’s gigabit broadband ambition.

From gaming to streaming, Gig1’s hyperfast speeds will mean that households can do everything they want to do online, at the same time and without delay, with millions of more homes set to benefit this year as we bring this next-generation connectivity to more cities around the UK.”

Oliver Dowden MP, UK Digital Secretary, said:

“Today’s announcement means we’re a million homes closer in delivering our plans to deliver gigabit broadband to everyone in the UK. We’re working closely with companies like Virgin Media and investing £5 billion to ensure the hardest to reach areas aren’t left behind – so that every part of the country can enjoy the benefits of a world class internet connection.”

Prices for the new package start from £62 per month for their standalone broadband service or £67 when bundled with phone (18 month term), with a guaranteed price freeze for at least 24 months. Naturally you can also take this alongside Virgin Media’s various TV packages, albeit at extra cost.

One negative of Virgin Media’s DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade is that it currently only fully applies to their downstream side, while the upstream side will still be delivered using the old D3.0 network. As a result some of the latency improvements that come with the D3.1 upgrades won’t be introduced, at least not until such time that Virgin apply it to their upload channels too.

Meanwhile the operator, through its Project Lightning programme, is continuing to expand their network to more homes and businesses across the UK. Approximately 2.1 million extra UK premises have been passed since the project began in 2016 (the original goal was 4 million – half on FTTP) and the roll-out is on-going, seemingly for the next few years.

UPDATE 1st March 2020

Virgin’s website appears to be saying that the West Midlands upgrade will go live from 12th March 2020 (credits to Marcel for spotting).

Leave a Comment
37 Responses
  1. Avatar Connor

    Would this include Wolverhampton?

  2. Avatar Colin

    Regarding the 500Mbps that service not available for just broadband only, only way to get it is to go for the Oomph package which costs £149 p/m

  3. Avatar James Band

    £62 seems pretty steep. So what will BT charge for their rumoured 1000 FTTP service? If Vodafone charge £40, Hyperoptic around £45, surely prices should be around the £40-45 by all of them?

    • Avatar Venomizer

      It’s the only way they will prevent me from switching to Vodafone (CityFibre) when they imminently install their network in my part of MK.

      I’ll probably still switch anyway as BT are unlikely to offer a symmetrical 1Gb service like Vodafone.

      Surely where altnets have overbuilt on OR FTTP the competition should drive all prices down

    • Avatar Roger_Gooner

      Vodafone offers Gigafast 900 for £48pm on a 24-month contract, but its coverage will be nowhere near what VM will have by December 2021 for its Gig1. Furthermore VM offers TV whereas Vodafone still has no pay TV. Let the market decide.

    • Avatar James Band

      Venomizer

      I agree. I wish CityFibre would build into areas where Openreach are switching on FTTP (after people having had to wait for 10 years in a lot of cases having been left with ADSL, or abysmal FTTC speeds of 1-3Mbps). If they did that, then you’d have some competition like you said if there’s overbuild.

      The Vodafone symmetrical service is superior theoretically, so I just can’t see how BT are going to market a BT 1000 Ultrafast Gigabit product for anything more than approx. £50 a month when Vodafone do it for £40-48.

      Currently on Vodafone FTTC and having to rely on Mobile Wifi 4G for decent internet. Need FTTP and want to go for 900 or 1000. Openreach finally declared my postcode FTTP ready up to 1000. Vodafone/Cityfibre are frustratingly in a city about 50 miles from me, but haven’t built into this village. I get conflicting messages from CityFibre, where an enquiry said they’re not coming here yet, and a Vodafone Live Chat who said soon.

      Add to that the complication that Vodafone were going to offer their Gigafast pricing for FTTP via Openreach according to an article here. Surely if they did THAT, then BT are toast unless they at least match the Vodafone price??

    • Avatar James Band

      Roger_Gooner

      Aren’t VM primarily urban and cities only? Openreach seem to have finally (emphasis on FINALLY) started doing FTTP to rural areas. Vodafone have started in several cities with CityFibre and expanding. I think Vodafone offer Live TV via FTTP in Ireland, and I had hoped they’d offer that here asap. You’d see a really shakeup of the TV market then (even Sky offer FTTP TV in Italy).

      But you see my point? Ultimately, to the consumer, it is irrelevant whether your ISP gets their Fibre from Openreach, CityFibre, B4RN, VM, or even the Moon. The consumer is going to see the product SPEED (for download in particular, but potentially notice the superior symmetrical product) and PRICE.

      If they see:
      Vodafone 900Mbps SYMMETRICAL upload for £48 a month FIXED on a 24 month contract, or £40 for 18 months
      VM 1000Mbps non symmetrical for £62 a month
      BT 1000Mbps Ultrafast Fibre Gigabit Broadband for £X a month on a 24 month contract

      VM surely has looked too expensive already.

      * Surely BT is going to have to offer the top retail product for around the £50 MAXIMUM a month to avoid looking completely silly versus Vodafone? Any excuses on their part for a HIGHER PRICE will only lead to questions as to why they aren’t throwing in symmetrical upload as well.

      The market can only decide if there’s competition. Which is why Openreach should have nothing to do with BT to avoid a complete conflict of interests.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      Not sure I believe the claim Openreach FINALLY started doing FTTP to rural areas.

      Plenty of Openreach FTTP in rural areas and it has been growing well before the Fibre Village announcement in November 2019

      FTTP TV is nothing new – its just IP TV and that has been around for years. HomeChoice was even running a service back in the early 2000’s

    • Avatar James Band

      Andrew Ferguson

      It should read to “SOME” rural areas – areas which have been told they would get Fibre in the next 6 months…over 6-10 years ago.

      And my question is about ISP pricing as per above for BT to actually look like they don’t want to lose custom or look even more like thieves than they already do (like most of the rest of them as well versus others’ pricing since to the consumer, it’s not going to matter where the Fibre comes from, but the price in the marketing).

    • Avatar CarlT

      BT can’t hugely undercut everyone else using BT Wholesale else they will be slapped by Ofcom.

      BT Wholesale can’t hugely undercut everyone else using Openreach else they will be slapped by Ofcom.

      The Openreach and BT Wholesale price lists are public.

      However uncompetitive you may think the pricing is that’s kinda the point of the regulation – to allow alternative networks to exist.

      Regarding FTTP to rural areas the most rural areas have more Openreach FTTP as a % than urban ones.

      Openreach are a private company. Why would they spend their customers’ and shareholders’ money on rural when they can cover far more in urban areas? They’d be sued into the ground if they couldn’t provide a decent business case: you’re on about pricing, Openreach have to charge the same price everywhere in the UK so urban areas subsidise rural ones.

      CityFibre/Vodafone pricing is a combination of a bunch of factors, as is Hyperoptic. You appear to expect Openreach to deploy to rural areas with abandon while charging no more than operators only deploying in urban areas.

      Can’t have it both ways.

    • Avatar Buggerlugz

      Pretty steep. Its ludicrous IMHO! Plus being Virgin you know they’ll probably be putting the price up the first month your out of contract and then again 5 months down the line!

    • Avatar Chipmunk

      You might get 500mbit from BT for £60ish, but 1000 will surely be 100+

    • Avatar James Band

      Chipmunk

      Wouldn’t it look completely stupid though for BT to charge £100 a month for a 1000/220 FTTP service, when Vodafone are offering “Gigafast 900/900” for £40-48 a month?!

      The pricing just makes no sense. In places like Singapore, you can get FTTP 1000 for £25 a month, or 10,000Mbps for £90 a month. And places like Portugal and Japan etc as larger countries also do FTTP cheaper than here. The notion that somehow the BT product can be priced at anything over £50 a month (given Vodafone is £48 maximum) suggests there is something seriously wrong with our country and our ISPs. This isn’t a true free market, but a cartel that the regulator must be in bed with.

  4. Avatar James

    Why is Gig1 available as standalone but M500 isn’t?
    Strange one.
    And hopefully it’ll be 110 upload at some point.

    • Avatar I know

      500 uses different cable modem and logically different network. 1Gig DoCSIS 3.1 and Hub4, 500M uses DoCSIS 3.0 and Hub3

    • Avatar mike

      That doesn’t answer the question. Why do they sell Gig1 standalone but not 500Mbps?

  5. Avatar Russia with Love

    Moscow Russia 1gbit download/1gbit upload 20 dollars per month

    • Avatar Simon

      Exactly.. lmao!!!

      It makes one think why The UK as a Country has been sooooo.. Slow… (and expensive) to roll out such technologies/infrastructure AND offered at a price that is pleasing to its customers. The UK has one of the worlds largest economies yet its way down the league tables of Full Fibre deployment (and vs. Price) .
      Sweden.
      Norway.
      Japan.
      The Netherlands.
      Hong Kong.
      Latvia.
      Switzerland.
      Russia.
      All have FAST and CHEAP FTTH Why is the UK so slow and comparatively expensive!!

    • Avatar Spurple

      Average Annual household income in Russia is somewhere around 25% of the UK. Things would be nominally cheaper but not necessarily much cheaper for the average person to buy.

    • Avatar Mike

      In UK there is also a fibre tax.

    • Avatar Stephen Wakeman

      Moscow is the most prestigious and richest part of Russia. The West Midlands is most certainly not analogous in this respect.

      What about other parts of Russia where the gross monthly average salary is equivalent to $1300? It’s great if you can get cheap gigabit, but since the country is so poor generally speaking, one would expect that the availability of cheap gigabit is a secondary consideration to living conditions and stuff like that.

      Unfair comparison I think.

  6. Avatar Mirek

    I live in Evesham. Virgin put pipes in the roads, pavements, pipes near every house, they built cabinets. Two to three years ago and nothing more has happened since then. The whole town has been blocked by groundwork and nothing, silence. I’m not surprised that Internet prices have to be so high if there are geniuses working in Virgin.

  7. Avatar Mark

    Will Rugby Warwickshire be in the 1gb catchment area. East side of West Midlands?

    • Avatar I know

      If it has a CV postcode and currently has the other Virgin tiers of service it will be covered.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      NOTE Unless the poster actually knows for certain that Warwickshire is included I would urge caution.

      In other areas like Manchester possession of M postcode is not enough, similar in Southapton

    • Avatar CarlT

      A bunch of CV postcodes connect to Warwick. Warwick hasn’t been upgraded as far as I know.

    • Avatar Mark

      So far as of 20th of march CV21 Rugby still not on 1GB any more information on this?

    • Avatar Aaron

      Still keeping my eye out for virgin media in the CV21 area, still nothing, no info, nothing. Do you know any more about upcoming installations? My sky internet is diabolical:-(

  8. Avatar Matt

    I live in Birmingham South,covered by Kings Norton CMTS …. does this mean yay or nea.

    Virgin haven’t anymore info for me at the moment however.

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