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Virgin Media Bring Full Fibre to 3,300 Premises in Shirebrook

Friday, July 24th, 2020 (1:25 pm) - Score 2,213
virgin media fibre optic spades

Broadband ISP and TV provider Virgin Media UK (Liberty Global) have today confirmed that they’ve just completed another network extension, which has seen 3,300 premises in the Derbyshire town of Shirebrook gain access to their gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network.

The deployment forms part of the operator’s £3bn Project Lightning build, which originally aimed to add an additional 4 million premises to their UK coverage by 2020 but so far they’ve only completed c.2.2 million. The operator tends to use 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.

Virgin Media is currently also deploying a DOCSIS 3.1 network upgrade across the UK too, which by the end of 2021 should make download speeds of 1Gbps+ possible (here). On the other hand, lately VM haven’t been very good at sticking to their targets, so we wouldn’t be surprised if some areas still aren’t capable of gigabit speeds by the end of next year.

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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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30 Responses
  1. joe says:

    Its very easy to understand when new fttp is run why issues can appear. Its much harder to understand the delays in 3.1

    1. A_Builder says:


      I suspect the 3.1 delay issue is more to do with working around the state of analogue hardware.

      Debugging anything like the VM network is going to be a mission and they don’t have a huge number of people on the ground really good at that kind of advanced logic/problem solving.

      I suspect CarlT will illuminate for us….

    2. TrueFibre says:

      I can’t blame you for you for finding it hard to understand. They say is FTTP when all it is Fibre to the node HFC isn’t full fibre. That’s what the last mile Broadband. They use a mix of FTTP and the last mile HFC steel coated copper coaxial cable.

    3. joe says:

      A_Builder: Granted I;ve never worked on VM’s network. But they’ve done this transition in Europe. They ought to have shaken this process down to a degree. Perhaps its just money…

    4. CarlT says:

      I suspect CarlT will illuminate for us….’

      Happy to. 2 issues, one or both of which can be causing the problems.

      1) Lack of usable return path / upstream path bandwidth. The odd area only has room for 3-4 upstream channels and selling 50 Mb/s upload on 80-110 Mb/s of capacity shared between a couple of hundred premises isn’t smart.
      2) Lack of downstream / forward path bandwidth so nowhere for the 96 MHz 3.1 OFDM carrier to go.

      In the case of 1) the solution is physical network upgrades. When people have had cards through their doors letting them know about outages it was to increase both forward and return path RF bandwidth to make more room for upstream and downstream channels. The other type of upgrade where there are 4 upstream channels available is to split optical nodes and reduce the amount of premises sharing those channels.

      Longer term they will require physical upgrades but as an interim node splits are okay.

      In the case of 2) VM have enough room that through a combination of migrating DTV from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 and migrating broadcast channels to IPTV makes enough room for the 96 MHz 3.1 carrier.

    5. CarlT says:

      ‘TrueFibre’ – most of what VM are building now is FTTP and has been for a while now.

    6. TrueFibre says:

      Yeah I know CarlT. It will take time before they eventually replace all of the last mile Broadband HFC. With this stupid COVID-19 setting things back.

    7. Andrew Ferguson says:


      If you know about RFOG why did you say ‘Fibre to the node HFC isn’t full fibre’

      In the RFOG areas it is fibre to the node and then fibre from the node to the actual wall of the property. A small media converter reverse powered down a short piece of coax is under the cover and then coax for the metre or so through the wall and to the modem/settop box.

      Also no current plans to replace the coax network, plenty of frequency space left in it for expansion of speeds in future.

    8. TrueFibre says:

      Lol HFC Stands For Hybrid fibre coax basically Coaxial Cable witch is coaxial steel coated copper and Radio Frequency over Glass that’s Fibre RFoG is fibre cable made of glass. You should know that fibre is made of ether glass or plastic.

    9. Andrew Ferguson says:

      The deployment in Shirebrook is fibre all the way to the home, then a final couple of feet of coax from the outside wall into the property.

      That counts as FTTP.

      Virgin Media has a mixed network at this time and is the UK’s second largest FTTP operator

    10. henry says:

      The fiber can carry more than RFoG. It could be combined with 10G-EPON, which is something VM has done. Is RFOG FTTP? Yes.

    11. joe says:


      I should perhaps have been clearer. I’m aware of point 1+2 but those are known knowns. VM parent has networks across Europe and the 3.1 upgrade is far ahead there. Its why the UK is so slow I’m puzzled by…

    12. CarlT says:

      Is it, Joe, or just certain countries?

      Genuine question, I haven’t looked recently.

      There’s another major consideration also – the cost and availability of the CPE.

      Lastly I suppose demand for it and competition. Why rush if you’ve no need to?

    13. joe says:


      Frome memory, in terms of progress all carriers (non LG but) Swiss Sasag are 100% 3.1 in 2019. Voda-p are 13m this year in Ger (unless covid have changed that I’ve not checked) Sweden/Denmark started their upgrade many years back ’16-18..

      They were under more pressure -v- fttp than in the UK. Though that has changed.

    14. joe says:

      @Carl but to be fair their may be network design differences -v- the UK that I’m unaware of.

      The MDU issue which generally hurt the UK in most matters must be a factor..

    15. Roger_Gooner says:

      VM serves three million flats in the UK and is keen to provide service to the other five million, of which two million are within 25 metres of its network and another 750,000 can be connected without major civils. However, although access to buildings can be obtained for the minority of landlords (the large nationals in charge of MDUs) the majority are small landlords some of whom are difficult to contact and some are registered offshore. Unless the government gives providers like VM the right to cable existing apartment buildings with landlords having the right to object on defined grounds we cannot get more MDU cabling done quickly.

    16. henry says:

      Joe, to compare with one of those Danish operators (2nd largest in the country). I believe they are about half through their footprint. They introduce 3.1 in an area when they upgrade the fiber node to a remote PHY node. VM has now begun deploying RPHY – maybe that could step up the pace.

    17. joe says:

      @Henry sounds about right the last figures I saw were well past 1/3rd

    18. TrueFibre says:

      FTTP stands for Fibre to the Premises Fibre cable all the way to your having your house wired for HFC coaxial cable is called last mile broadband doesn’t count as FTTP sorry. Maybe ones Virgin Media has upgraded to Full Fibre. But for now I will call it last mile Broadband HFC hybrid fibre coax cable.


    19. TrueFibre says:

      I am aware of that. Virgin Media uses Full Fibre with new installations and upgrading existing customers. And I do know that Virgin uses FTTP to walls I do realise that’s the new standard installation. But am talking about old setups people who have not been upgraded yet Andrew Ferguson. It lest there bring the Fibre closer. I am thinking about with Virgin because I hate the Openreach’s Fibre to the Cabinet FTTC.

  2. Peter says:

    Less than a mile, on my estate the VM Cabs are only a few hundred metres at most from properties. They are much closer than OR Cabs which can be miles away.

    1. joe says:

      Exactly what you’d expect

    2. TrueFibre says:

      True it really depends on we’re the fibre node is on the street. Like me for example my FTTN Node a cross my street. Your talking about 8 meters the fibre to the node cabinet is very close. Some people have it down the street. It really depends.

  3. Karl Betts says:

    Virgin Media leave London last again.

    1. Karl Betts says:

      Sign SE London !

    2. CarlT says:

      ‘The expansion will include 6,000 premises in Westminster and a significant investment in Barnet which will see fibre connected directly to 40,000 homes and businesses. Other areas where Virgin Media will build include Greenford, Southall, Hammersmith & Fulham, Twickenham, St John’s Wood, Bexley and Croydon.’

      Either way London neither left until last or left out – 450,000 premises total to be built to. Your street isn’t the entire city and will, I’m sure, have plenty of options in the not too distant.

    3. CarlT says:

      While you’re at it have a look at https://www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband/fibre-first#fibrefirstlocations – use Richmond upon Thames and then scroll the map around.

      Add that to the alternative network builds ongoing.

      It’s fair to say London isn’t hard done by by any stretch – loads going on there.

  4. Mark says:

    London isn’t that bad, look at some towns in Gloucestershire much bigger than Shirebrook and don’t get a look in, Stroud has over 33000 compared to 11000 there, I’d like to know there roll-out methodology.

    1. CarlT says:

      A big part is getting the fibre there in the first place alongside proximity to existing Virgin Media plant and real estate.

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