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Virgin Media Bring 1Gbps to 3 Million People in London and N.Ireland

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020 (10:30 pm) - Score 8,568
virgin media fibre trench and cable

Cable broadband ISP Virgin Media UK has tonight switched-on their new DOCSIS 3.1 network upgrade for 3 million extra people across both London and Northern Ireland, which means that a total of 6.8 million homes 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 (636Mbps via Ultimate Oomph) 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 3.6 million premises had already gained access to this upgrade across big parts of Southampton, Manchester, Reading, Birmingham, Coventry, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds, Bradford, Glasgow and surrounding areas.

However, today’s huge addition of the London and Northern Ireland (inc. Belfast) areas adds more than 3 million extra premises, which takes the overall total to 6.8 million premises. The rest of their network – 15 million+ premises in total (likely to hit 16 million in around 12 months) – are planned to follow by the end of 2021.

For the the next few years VM can rightly claim to be the largest UK provider of gigabit speeds, even if it is only the on the downstream side. Meanwhile Openreach (BT) plan to cover 20 million premises with FTTP by the mid-to-late 2020s, although VM have signalled that they could extend to a further 7 million premises within a similar time-frame (here).

Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media, said:

“It has never been clearer that our services play a vital role in supporting people’s everyday lives and powering the economy. The nation needs next-generation connectivity and we’re delivering.

Our ambitious target will see us roll-out gigabit speeds across our entire network of more than 15 million homes by the end of next year. We’re on track to deliver that promise with homes in London and Northern Ireland the latest to gain access to blisteringly-fast Gig1 services.

As our rollout continues at a speed and scale unmatched by anyone else, whatever the future holds, we’re keeping our customers and the country connected to what’s next.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“The rollout of ultrafast broadband is vital for London’s future: it will create jobs, stimulate growth and give a much-needed boost to businesses at a crucial time.

As Mayor I’m proud we’re making real progress on London’s worst ‘not-spots’ – including getting mobile coverage on the Underground, starting with the Jubilee Line.

It’s great news that Virgin Media is continuing to invest in London and ensuring six million Londoners can access gigabit speeds.”

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 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 (this will change eventually). 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.

On top of all this the operator has also published a complementary new report, which predicts that gigabit broadband could unlock an opportunity worth more than £11bn a year in saved working hours to the national economy. However, trying to accurately gauge the economic impact of deploying faster broadband is notoriously difficult, not least since most premises won’t be starting from a point of zero connectivity. The biggest immediate benefit is usually felt in rural areas, which tend to wait the longest for an upgrade but these have less impact overall due to smaller populations.

Likewise, we’re all very different in our consumption requirements and not all businesses benefit from having access to significantly faster broadband speeds than are currently available. For some tasks the difference between, for example, 10Mbps and 1000Mbps is largely irrelevant when talking about online shopping and banking etc.

Leave a Comment
36 Responses
  1. Avatar Person in West London says:

    Still not live in West London (Hayes), only showing the m600 service

    1. Avatar Roger_Gooner says:

      I’m in the UB4 postcode area and connected to the Hayes hub site, and I can now get M1000.

    2. Avatar Person in West London says:

      It just, about 10 mins ago, went live for my street according to the site.

  2. Avatar Jordan says:

    Its available for me in North London but i cant order it yet.

  3. Avatar Robert Reed says:

    Virgon are been to slow with this we were spose be getting sky uhd in 2020 looks like thays gone out the window now theres only nearly 8 weeks left of this year

  4. Avatar Santi says:

    52 meg up? For real?!!! Not even 10%?!! VM is so ridiculous

    1. Avatar Connor says:

      If I recall correctly Virgin use DOCSIS 3.0 for upload on their 3.1 service so they are actually limited on that front.

    2. Avatar Phil says:

      Indeed absolute rubbish speeds, call this FTTP?!! Makes a mockery of marketing a 1Gps service. With working from home becoming the new normal it means broadband isn’t just about receiving data anymore, upload speeds are also important. Advertising the virtues of a fast broadband connection and making comparisons to other providers based on downloads only is very misleading.

      Openreach is little better but they do offer 100Mbps upload on their 1Gbps service which is a bit of an improvement. There is simply no reason why Openreach couldn’t offer 500Mbps upload on their 1Gbps service as GPON is 2:1 with uploads then being no more contented than downloads, of course they don’t because they don’t want to erode sales of their other leased line products.

    3. Avatar NE555 says:

      > Indeed absolute rubbish speeds, call this FTTP?!!

      I don’t think anybody called it FTTP. Most of their network uses coax copper cable, although some parts use RFoG (Radio Frequency over Glass, i.e. FTTP which emulates a coax cable)

  5. Avatar Baz says:

    Virginmedia should give everyone the new hub 4. I have the hub 3 and the wi-fi speed and connection is shocking. They need to improve their customer service and value their current customers

    1. Avatar James White says:

      The Hub4 isn’t exactly that much better either, still uses Intel Puma SoC, maybe a bit faster on the hardware level generally, so maybe less likely to see the latency issues but still uses the same flawed Intel architecture.

  6. Avatar Random Precision says:

    Looks like the north east is last to be upgraded as usual, however on the plus side Openreach are due to build their FTTP in the next few months then it’ll be bye bye Virgin.

    1. Avatar FibreAddict says:

      I’m in the Midlands and Cityfibre have already been up our street, just waiting on them to activate then bye bye VM also.

      Been with VM 10yrs out of need as BT was 10-12Mbps tops.

      Recent WFH I pay for 350Mbps I am lucky to get 70Mbps at best 30Mbps at low

  7. Avatar Jamie Simms says:

    As seems the normal now Virgin Media are chasing Openreach’s tail again.

    Openreach do mass FTTP rollout in Northern Ireland and London so Virgin cover it with their Gig1 service.

    I do feel now that if the government are serious about getting as many people as possible into Ultrafast connections then they need to do something to stop all the overbuilding that keeps happening.

    Coventry being a prime example with Openreach,Virgin and CityFibre all covering the same areas and it is not uncommon to have Openreach engineers pulling fibre one week and then have CityFibre installing their ducts the next week. I know of large new build estate in Coventry where the houses come pre wired with Openreach OLT and Virgin Media FTTP and CityFibre wallbox
    Maybe the government should offer incentives to providers to install Ultrafast into towns and cities that have got little coverage like in Leicester, Kettering,Market Harborough and Sheffield as the current method is just skewing the figures as they are often covering the same houses

    1. Avatar Andrew Ferguson says:

      As someone doing the ‘figures’

      A property with 3 FTTP networks or Gig1 and 1 or more FTTP networks is only counted a 1 property. No idea why people think it might be counted three times.

    2. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      Will please the politicians though. “Sprouting” Giga coverage without actually doing anything, just what they like. The fact that most of it is HFC and the asymmetric ratio remains high won’t stop them including it in their overall Giga progress figures and continuing to using broadband status out of context. Boris answered a question recently regarding how well they were doing, I am not aware this government has done nothing NEW yet.

    3. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      anything NEW

    4. Avatar Andrew says:

      https://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/8854-gigabit-coverage-in-uk-predicted-to-be-74-9-in-december-2025

      Bookmark that and the chart in particular, highlights how things will change once the DOCSIS 3.1 switch on ends

    5. Avatar Jamie Simms says:

      Andrew- So when Openreach say their FTTP network has passed X amount of homes in the last month if the area already has CityFibre or Gig1 available then it’s not included in ISP and this sites figures ?

    6. Avatar Andrew Ferguson says:

      Correct.

      No idea why people would think i would fo anything else.

  8. Avatar vforvendetta says:

    52MB upload.

    They just don’t get it do they.

    1. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      I think they do. Maximise existing assets and maximise revenue/profit for the least investment for the majority of their customers and products. All whilst increasing footprint with longer term assets and attempting to bring their kit closer to Sky Q.

      Higher upload may come later. The Giga label will help their marketing, they know this is not needed for their average customer but it will insist alongside their top VIP products always knowing the speed is unlikely to be utilised.

      The rollout of 3.1 gives them breathing space and undermines any Altnet investment in their patch. Those that perceive they need Giga or symmetrical speeds would migrate anyway.

      BT wasted their breathing space hence why OR is now having to catch up for FTTP.

      VM need to ensure their overall performance (e.g Saturday 8pm) isn’t their achilles heel. It is no good having theoretical speeds if it drops below typical use requirements.

  9. Avatar John says:

    Virgin media will no doubt be charging through the nose for the privilege, its a shame that they cannot even manage the current speeds/packages they already have, I’m leaving them because I’m on a so called fast package and I get download speeds of 0.12mps in certain rooms of my house, it’s ok in my living room, but anywhere else is dire

    To add insult to injury, after phoning them to tell them that I don’t feel I’m getting what I’m paying for (£130 per month) and that I want to leave, the operator said that they could do the package for £70 per month so virgin have been raping my wallet for a good 2-3 years or more, when they could of actually given me that price in the begining, and I find its a shame that it takes the threat of leaving to get the reduction, shame on you Virgin media, needless to say I told them to stick it and moving onto ISP pastures new. YOU BLEW IT VIRGIN Media.

    Good luck serving the nation with your fast Internet connection deals

    1. Avatar Matt Rowley says:

      Wifi speeds have nothing to do with your connection to Virgin.

      You don’t say a radio station is rubbish because you can’t receive it in one room but you can in another. It’s the same thing.

    2. Avatar Winston Smith says:

      A mesh WiFi router and satellite(s) would fix your download problems.

    3. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      The VM routers are notorious for bad WIFI coverage (chipset as highlighted) and most frequent position of hub, alongside the TV box in the lounge. Those currently with multiroom have a self contained box with a coax feed. If the new 360 mini is the same as the one launched in EIRE it will connect via WIFI or Ethernet.

      VM may take the opportunity to rent a mesh but do hope they are intending something better than their WIFI Boosters to go with their new 360 setup without the customer incurring even more cost.

    4. Avatar NeilM says:

      Wifi Mesh network with a hardwired network connection between them both and your problem goes away.

      There are so many factors related to wifi signal penetration and the topology of the house.

      My primary router was in the loft and the signal strength on the ground floor was rubbish, once the 2nd mesh device was added via a network cable on the ground floor, then nearly the whole house was nicely covered. I still have one so so spot, but that will be sorted soon.

    5. Avatar LAJOS NAGY says:

      I agree with NEILM, that is the best hardwiring the mesh routers. However I have other proposal and cost you nothing if you are and old VIRGIN customer. Hardwire all your routers which were given to you by VIRGIN in the past and use the old ones as an access point. It works perfectly, believe me. One in the loft, one in the second floor and one in first floor( being with Virgin for 7 years). I have limited some of my access point to security cameras.

  10. Avatar Mr Man says:

    DAMN

    I was literally checking the website yesterday (I’m in London) to see if I can get Gig1 but it only said M500 (which I already have and are using right now.) and check the website today and BOOM. M1000

    Shouldn’t it say Gig1 though? It says that in other areas (Manchester, Reading, etc.)

    1. Avatar Mr Man says:

      Update: it now says Gig1

  11. Avatar Pan Tan says:

    These upload speeds are woeful for the price. Also a slight correction, it seems the 500Mbps package offers upload speeds of 36-37 whilst the Gig1 package goes up to 50-52Mbps.

  12. Avatar Slow Lane says:

    Do Virgin still use Traffic Management if you download a lot?

    Virgin users I feel your pain (especially for the eye watering price!) but have a bit of sympathy for ADSL and Long-Line FTTC users!

    1. Avatar John says:

      No, they don’t.
      They haven’t for years now.

  13. Avatar Ryan Arbuckle says:

    Available in Londonderry

  14. Avatar Ryan Arbuckle says:

    Ordered £54 for 1gig for 18months (price for 24 months)

  15. Avatar Sonia says:

    Well this is an interesting development. I wonder who will deliver 1Gbit first in my area. We’re on the list for openreach FTTP at some point, and we have 500mbit VM right now. For me, whoever provides the best upload wins. There are no altnet isps in my area

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