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Virgin Media Bring 1Gb Broadband to Leeds, Bradford, Glasgow

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 4,592
virgin media fibre optic install with mike fries and john malone

Cable broadband ISP Virgin Media UK claims to have today become the UK’s “largest gigabit broadband network” after switching-on their DOCSIS 3.1 network upgrade in Leeds, Bradford, Glasgow and surrounding areas, which means that a total 3.6 million premises can now access their top Gig1 service (1104Mbps download and 52Mbps upload).

At present nearly all of Virgin Media’s customers can already access top ultrafast speeds of 516Mbps via the operator’s existing EuroDOCSIS 3.0 based Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network. Meanwhile the boost to Gigabit speeds is all thanks to the latest DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade.

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

Until today around 2.7 million premises had already gained access to this upgrade across big parts of Berkshire, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire (e.g. Greater Manchester, Southampton, Reading and many surrounding areas), Edinburgh, Liverpool and the West Midlands (i.e. Birmingham, Coventry and surrounding areas), while the rest of their network – 15 million+ premises in total – are planned to follow by the end of 2021 (Virgin say they’re still “on track” to deliver this).

However, today’s addition of Leeds, Bradford, Glasgow and surrounding areas adds almost 1 million premises, which takes the overall total 3.6 million premises and crucially that’s around 600,000 more than Openreach’s 1Gbps capable FTTP network. In short, Virgin Media can now claim to be the largest UK provider of gigabit speeds.

Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media, said:

“We’re proudly leading the charge to make the UK faster by offering our gigabit connectivity to more homes than any other provider.

We set out an ambitious target to roll-out gigabit speeds across our entire network of 15 million homes by the end of next year, and we’re on track to deliver that promise with Glasgow, Leeds and Bradford being the latest cities to have access to our blisteringly-fast Gig1 service reaching 1140Mbps.

Providing next-generation connectivity across the country is a mission that is increasingly important as the role of our services to everyday lives and the economy has never been clearer. We’ll be connecting more cities to our gigabit network this year at a speed and scale unmatched by anyone else. Whatever the future holds, we’re connecting our customers to what’s next.”

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 last year. The HUB 4.0 is VM’s only router with DOCSIS 3.1 support, although they have made the device available on some slower packages in certain areas so as to help tackle issues of high utilisation (here).

Prices for the new 1Gbps broadband package typically start at £62 per month (standalone broadband) on an 18 month term and come attached to a guaranteed price freeze for at least 24 months. Customers can also take this alongside Virgin Media’s various Pay TV packages, albeit at extra cost.

As before we should point out that the operator’s D3.1 upgrade currently only fully applies to their downstream connectivity, while the upstream side is still delivered using the old D3.0 network. As a result, some of the latency improvements that come with the D3.1 standard won’t be introduced and upload speeds continue to be restricted to the same level as on their 516Mbps plan.

Meanwhile Openreach has committed to invest £12bn in order to roll-out FTTP to 20 million premises, but building a brand-new network will take significantly longer and that isn’t expected to complete until sometime in the mid to late 2020s (2025-2030). Nevertheless, upload speeds remain the weak point of Virgin Media’s current platform.

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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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35 Responses
  1. Archie says:

    Great news!

    So it’s been a month since they turned on Edinburgh and Liverpool, roughly 4/5 months since the West Mids went live. Any bets or ideas as to when the East Mids will be treated to this upgrade? Not that it in any way affects anyone but me, but I’m getting impatient now! Come on!

    1. CarlT says:

      None whatsoever. A few vague ideas though nothing I’d discuss in public.

      They’re less than a quarter of the way through. Leaving over three quarters of the network to be upgraded.

      The areas upgraded so far have been fortunate to be in the early phase, as the initial focus has been on ‘Fibre Cities’, that’s all.

  2. Granger says:

    Does DOCSIS 3.1 actually improve latency? If so do we know by how much and how does it compare to FTTP?
    Are we talking about small improvements from 20ms to 16ms or a big improvement to less than 10ms?

    1. Jordan says:

      I mean i get 7 ping when doing a speedtest on docsis 3.0 and when playing games i get 0 ping.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      @Granger. Yes D3.1 does include some improvements for latency when applied to the upstream channel (e.g. Active Queue Management), although exactly how much this impacts your connection in the real-world is likely to vary. Having said that the “small improvement” example you give sounds fair and that’s actually a big % improvement :).

      @Jordan. If you’re getting a latency time of 0 then something isn’t quite right, every element of a network will add some small bit of latency. Even a wired LAN will add a tiny bit of overhead and that’s before you consider the internet chain of server hops and CDNs. I’d like to see a traceroute to the game server :).

    3. CarlT says:

      Latency to what is the question as far as the numbers you mentioned go.

      Speedtest latency readouts aren’t reliable. Neither are what some games report going by the other poster claiming zero latency.

      There’s potentially a technology that can reduce latency on some traffic by 5-7 ms providing similar first hop latency to what you expect from FTTP: https://www.cablelabs.com/technologies/low-latency-docsis

      Active Queue Management doesn’t offer much initially, it’s more to help reduce latency when a service is under load – protecting your gaming traffic from being drowned out by streaming your gameplay for instance.

    4. Jordan says:

      @mark so yeah when i play fortnite i mostly get from 0 ping to 5 and if i go on call of duty which has worse servers, i get 20 to 40. This is whilst im using ethernet of course. Fortnite servers use amazon servers which is why i get way better ping on they game than CoD using Demonware servers.

    5. CarlT says:

      The network nerd in me is intrigued by how games can get latency so very wrong.

      While I’m sure your VM connection is okay and you’re pretty close to London I am quite confident you aren’t getting to the server and back faster than I can reach my exchange over FTTP.

      1 ( 1.569 ms 1.408 ms 1.393 ms

      I’m going to look into it. Thanks Jordan. 🙂

    6. Jordan says:

      Yep just did a traceroute to fortnite EU servers and i got 8 ms but in game it does say 0 ping and goes up to 5 ping so maybe the ingame ping is wrong not sure. But i am in London so i get lower ping than most people in game atleast that is.

    7. CarlT says:

      8 sounds about right. That’s as low as VM goes. There’s room for that to improve to 1-2 ms with the upcoming changes if in London.

      As a guide to the difference now I ping London in 7-8 ms from Yorkshire: I gain 6 ms on you in between home and exchange/hubsite where my modem/ONT connects.

      Until the upcoming standards are implemented cable will never compete with either FTTP or actually decent FTTC for latency and jitter. That’s the nature of the protocol.

    8. Daniel says:

      don’t trust FN in-game ping its highly wrong, also their is lots of thing that can affect latency I have a 8ms ping FTTP Openreach, but in game it can go up and down depending on many things like CPU bottleneck, path, server it would be nice if game server was perfect but their never are, you have millions of people connecting to the server their also trying to save money, some game also include the processing speed to the latency, you might have a 8ms to the server but in game it might show you have a 30-40-50ms

  3. Tom says:

    And yet I’ve been waiting over a month for some explanation of the virgin media trench to nowhere that passes my house.

    I’ve got big rusty virgin cabinets, small less rusty cabinets, ntl ports in the pavement by each house, a mixture of NTL, CATV and snazzy virgin media manholes/access ports. The trench and Catv manhole covers go as far as a local business park… None of whom can get VM supply either.

    Sales tell me they don’t supply my address, the executive team are ghosting me, and I’ve no idea who else to ask…

    This stuff has been there for a long while, longer than 3 years… Isn’t the groundwork the expensive bit of laying fibre? Why on earth do virgin not want my money.

    1. david says:

      Telewest blew through my town in 1996 – to this day they never turned it on.

      Can’t get cable at all

  4. Ryan says:

    Inb4 someone comes in moaning about the upload when a lot of the UK do not even get that down.

    Yes it’s not ideal but at least you have the option of faster speeds unlike the ignored areas.

    1. SymetricalAccess says:

      You miss the problem. It’s also irrelevant what other areas can get. The upload will always be rubbish on VM. If they roll out FTTP it discourages othe provider to also install FTTP even if they offer higher upload speed. So then your stuck with VMs rubbish asymetric FTTP.

      VM installed FTTP here and I’ve not taken it because the upload is rubbish. CityFibre just started installing in the area but looks like their not going overbuild this VM FTTP. So symetrical gigabit will stop a stones throw away because of VM and their rubbish network.

      You cannot call yourself a “gigabit broadband network” if it’s only a fraction of that in one of the directions. Well, you can but I’ll not accept it. Upload speed is just as improtant and will only get more so.

    2. CarlT says:

      For most people upload speed isn’t anywhere near as important as down.

      You’re quite wrong about the FTTP you have access to being stuck forever on asymmetrical services.

      If you’ve not taken VM because the upload is rubbish I guess you already have access to higher upload speeds via another service.

      If you don’t upload evidently isn’t that important else, while it’s very asymmetrical, you’d have taken the highest upload speed service you have access to.

  5. Sulaman says:

    Not according to their website they haven’t no Leeds no Bradford on Glasgow mentioned on their Gig1 pages.

    1. CarlT says:

      Try the availability checker…

  6. Alphaville says:

    no wonder virgin media is so slow to adopt new tech, all them geezers look like they’re in their 70s.

  7. n.khan says:

    According to their website, we haven’t got gigabit yet

  8. SymetricalAccess says:

    Rubbish upload though. 🙂 Lower even than they offer on their network in other countrys.

    1. CarlT says:


      Those other countries tend to have far more issues with congestion speaking to people who work on them. UK requires more overhead so can’t push the network as hard.

      Which Liberty Global countries offer higher than the 55 Mbit the UK gigabit product is actually capped at?

  9. Steve Price says:

    Be nice if Virgin could venture across Offa’s dyke and give us a taste of 1 gig.

  10. MAX says:

    Will not paying £62 a month for 1Gig down and poor upload 50Meg for overpriced if it become available in Telford

    1. CarlT says:

      Fortunately no-one is forcing you to so it’s all good.

      The price isn’t great but neither is it horrible. It is a vanity service – there are no applications that really require this much bandwidth but it’s a nice to have. If people want nice things they usually have to pay for them.

    2. JitteryPinger says:

      You copying and pasting this on every news article about Gig1 or you actually for the time to type it (guessing the latter)

  11. James™ says:

    Would also be nice to see a multi gigabit ethernet port on their router to see speeds over 940 megabits/s

    1. Daniel says:

      James™ = Not sure what you mean by multi Gigabit ports ? most router have 1G port including VMSH, their would be no point in having a 2.5G or 10G port on a 1G connection it would cost too much for the router and most router are given out, they would lose lots of money and people would see little to no change in speed if VM still sending 1G down the pipe

    2. Rich says:

      Daniel, their 1gb is provisioned as 1140mbit or so,so the 940mbit you can achieve on gigabit ethernet is already limiting.

      Given that they usually introduce new speed tiers over the life of a router, having it not even able to cope with the speed on release seems stupid.

      Addition of a 10g sfp+ port would add minimal cost and maximum flexibility. Those that want multigig over copper can add an rj45 copper sfp+ module, others can just use a cheap DAC or mm/sm module cheaply.

    3. Steven says:

      Was thinking exactly the same!

      Pointless selling it as an 1100mbps Service when you aren’t gonna see more than 940mbps

    4. Daniel says:

      Rich and Steven, I forgot they sell 1140 Mb/s for download, I understand the comment James™ now, does not help the Fact that as far as I know their is no way to replace VM modem with a 3rd party one, which really is a big no no with me.

  12. Dan says:

    Anyone know when London will be receiving 1gig package?

    1. JitteryPinger says:

      No… this isn’t information that is shared as it may be considered sensitive

    2. CarlT says:

      London is tricky due to its size, the variety of qualities of network there and the amount of networks that come under the ‘London’ umbrella.

      If you recall when they increased upload to 10:1 ratio they did London in many different sections with some being right at the beginning of the deployment and some right at the end. To do London all in one go means catering to the lowest common denominator.

      London is also a real problem for network reliability for a few reasons.

  13. Jay says:

    Anyone know if gig1 is coming to Kent ?

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