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Virgin Media O2 Contracts Light Source for UK FTTP Rollout

Wednesday, August 18th, 2021 (1:34 pm) - Score 6,576

Broadband ISP and mobile giant Virgin Media (VMO2) has announced a new partnership with infrastructure developer Light Source, which looks set to help with the ongoing expansion and upgrade of their gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network across the United Kingdom.

At present VMO2 is expected to continue their existing Project Lightning deployment until their UK network coverage reaches around 16 million UK premises – this mostly reflects existing Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) technology, but in the past two years their builds have been dominated by “full fibreFTTP.

However, as a result of the recent merger between O2 and Virgin Media, the combined company has proposed to invest £10bn over the next 5-years in order to expand their 5G and FTTP broadband coverage even further. In terms of the latter, they’ve previously spoken of an ambition to reach another c.7 million homes (some of those would be in rural and semi-rural areas).

VMO2 has also recently announced that they intend to upgrade their existing HFC network – some 14.3 million premises – with FTTP by the end of 2028 (here). Suffice to say, they’ll need more civil engineering contractors for all this and the new deal with Light Source will no doubt help.

At the time of writing, neither company has put out a full press release on this agreement, but Light Source have issued the following comment.

Steve Hill, Light Source Managing Director, said:

“We are privileged to add Virgin Media to our client base and look forward to a strong alliance. Myself and many of the Light Source SMT started our career in the ‘Cable Industry’ and this partnership brings us full circle. Many thanks to all parties that contributed through this process.”

We should point out that Light Source also works with various other broadband ISPs and alternative networks, such as KCOM, Netomnia (YouFibre) and Airband etc. Apparently, Light Source’s work with VMO2 will be focused on the Midlands, the North West and East of England regions.

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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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33 Responses
  1. LPP says:

    I’m curious how long they can play the small Alt Net card. They’re rolling out in Weston-Super-Mare, Burnham-on-sea and Bridgwater all at the same time so they’re not restricting themselves to cities anymore. While also benefitting from PIA.

    If I was Jurassic Fibre in Bridgwater, I’d be more annoyed about Virgin coming in to compete, getting to use all Openreach ducts and poles than BT being there already.

  2. I Am Ig Og says:

    Virgin Media is terrible, I hate them and I will say so at every opportunity.

    1. Ig Og says:

      Wish I’d said that. Attn; Cancel virgin media, total rip off. Call 0800 952 2277 to cancel. Takes 30 days but so worth it.

    2. I am the real Ig Og says:

      I hate Virgin Media so much that I sleep in a tent outside their Reading HQ, just so I can wee through their letter box, first thing in the morning! Don’t ask what I do with my number twos… it’s just too ‘dirty’ a protest!!


      CALL 0800 952 2277 NOW!!!! THIS IS NOT A REQUEST… IT’S AN ORDER!!!!!

    3. Buggerlugz says:

      wow….just wow.

    4. Onephat says:

      Move on chap.

    5. I Am Ig Og says:

      BT is terrible, I hate them and I will say so at every opportunity.

    6. Not Og says:

      BT hating “I Am Ig Og”,

      Ig Og is obsessed with VM, not BT.

      You’re not any kind of Ig Og.

    7. Lexx says:

      If I had the option right now I would use fttp (as it has sub consent under 10ms and almost no jitter) but I don’t (30/5 aprox on vdsl) so 1000 virgin is actually fine for me for now (surprisingly this is on docsis 3.0 currently as my area hasn’t had there docsis cards replaced yet in the main green cab to get 3.1)

      but they really need to get the upstream onto 3.1, as that’s where all the problems are with virgin when people are complaining about slow downloads or unreliable Internet (it actually the upload that’s the problem not download)

      it’s why if you complain hard enough you will get a vm4 hub even if your on a basic 100mb package (norm have to be on the 1gb package) as it allows more connections over the docsis network, doesn’t really fix the problem just hides it enough that the user won’t notice (my area isn’t congested since they installed docsis 3.0 in the cabs)

      Problems with virgin HFC copper is that problems are at a per street level (usually 5-15 streets as they all run of one main cab) so tend to only affect an extremely small amount of people, way under 0.5% or even lower ever since docsis 3.0 was rolled out and as 3.1 is been rolled out it has stupid amount of bandwidth available at the street level so once users modems start getting replaced they see an immediate improvement of the service mainly lower pings and no lost packets (witch means we pages and YouTube will work fine)

  3. FibreFred says:

    Hopefully their civil engineering crews will be better.

    Locally there’s an uproar as footpaths have been wrecked and left in a dangerous state with the recent works , and now the council are getting involved. A quick search on Google shows its not the first time either.

  4. Lee says:

    It was romoured that Sky maybe using virgin fibre. So I could switch from virgin to sky on a virgin line.

    Is this still just a romour? Is it likely to happen?

  5. Matt says:

    I know this has been said before but I wish they would just finish cabling areas they are already heavily part of rather than moving off somewhere else and replicating the same thing there!

    When you contact them, they seem clueless as to why they didn’t come to you and fob you off around different departments with the promise of hearing about the area soon but that never happens.

    I’m not sure I would go with them now even if they randomly turned up!

    1. CarlT says:

      No idea what you’re saying here, Matt. If your street is too expensive they won’t build there.

      The cost is rated per premises passed with various other costs shared between many premises. Building elsewhere doesn’t automatically cost more per premises passed than to reach you would as the costs are much more finely granulated. The £100k to get fibre to this new area may be split between 5,000 premises, £20 per premises, then a bunch of them end up costing £600 or less on top of that £20.

      If your area is tons of block paving whether you’ve network close to you or not it may cost £1k or more to reach each premises.

      They’re purely going by the economics. They spend too much extending to expensive areas they will never get the money back as they’ve a budget they build to.

      They ignored that budget for a while and went well over costs.

    2. Matt says:

      I fully understand that but I think the fact there is no clarity regarding why it was left. This isn’t block paving or anything of that nature, it’s a footpath that follows around the corner but they have just stopped.

      You ring and enquire but are just told that they can add it to the permit and get back to you but nothing happens. A simple it’s to expensive would suffice but instead you get taken round departments each saying they want to build it and the contractors are there and it’s simple. The outcome is that nothing happens but they leave you hanging for months saying there will be news which doesn’t come. That’s my issue.

    3. Nofttphere says:

      In the same position as you. Very frustrating. Our town is heavily VM yet they won’t come back to cable our estate when vm cables run right past our entrance road. Have been trying for years but now given up to the constant run around. The only option is to move as cant see any other providers coming here being stuck on eci cab at 800m….

  6. ROBBIR says:

    I think customer expectations are often to hi with WiFi performance. VM as other providers are limited to the range of their routers. The speeds at source are usually very good with VM. Every house is different when it comes to range, some 3 bed semis can lose over 50% of the connection in the opposite bedroom to where the hub is located. But think if you only have 50mb to start with that is a big drop. Also the amount of devices people have connected these days will always take a bit of bandwidth and speed from your hub… Doorbells, light bulbs, Alexa, etc are always online gobbling up the megabytes you are paying for…. This goes for any provider, at least VM can offer the higher speeds for our increasing demands… In other words if BT or others are only providing 70mbs, don’t expect 4k Netflix if your kids are Tik Toking, You tubing, and everyone else is gaming or zooming…

    1. JitteryPinger says:

      Interesting, yet another unedjucated comment here….

      I’m not here to argue for any of these budget ISP’s that just want to sell service agreements, But you don’t quite have a grasp on how Internet works…

      But to fall into your trap I will say that I have a 49mbps line (BT it isn’t but same infrastructre) I share with 3 other people who stream Full HD Bt/Sky Sports, Netflix, Amazon and also live linear TV via IP, all also using mobile devices and guess what, no issues with my 4K streaming on Netflix, I also gamed fine too whilst these activites happened…. soooooo.

      I would even go as far as revealing that I did a lot of uploading and that was something I preffered to use a BT-like line for over my Gigabit Virgin connection as the state of latency on DOCSIS services (what cable broadband uses FYI) when under load is humiliating for Gigabit headlining provider to say the least.

      PS. I also use mobile broadband services with speeds varying between 5-20mbps and they sustain multiuple streams with other devices too.

    2. CarlT says:

      Your issues with performance while uploading are an expected side effect of uploading over DoCSIS.

      The solution is for the client, you, to rate limit the upload or defer it.

      Not a lot VM can do on that one easily.

      Might be removed in the near future, might not, as the solution costs upstream capacity. VM might well find it better to leave it given people have coped since before the turn of the century and they’re deploying XGSPON overbuild.

    3. henry says:

      “Might be removed in the near future, might not, as the solution costs upstream capacity.”

      You are referring to Low Latency DOCSIS, correct? PGS in LLD is what eats some of the capacity, but PGS doesn’t need to be enabled.

    4. Lexx says:

      In a shared house I would sure use a custom router so you can enable basic traffic shaping (I wouldn’t use QOS as most routers that are affordable can’t do QOS and traffic shaping at 1000/50 and keep above 400 speeds but really it’s the upload that’s more important as if that is maxed out everything will slow down)

      So limit it to 900/40 (maybe even 30) so your under the 1000/50 they provide, virgin upload latency does start to spike a bit higher the closer you get to 50

      WiFi in shared dorms can be probimatic and mite in some cases require qos on the WiFi it self (I find DrayTek VigorAP 902 good for that) if the WiFi on the router doesn’t automatically have equal share enabled already to prevent one WiFi device from using up all the bandwidth

    5. CarlT says:

      Meant downstream capacity though PGS does chew upstream as well.

      I’m not actually sure of the total cost but doubling the upstream MAP frequency I’d expect to double the overhead on the primary channel. AQM and the extra queue are our friend in heavy utilisation scenarios of course.

      LLD may help significantly, depends if the traffic falls into the low latency queue.

      Heavy downstream utilisation might increase latency somewhat but it shouldn’t be massive. Certainly in my experience it’s not high enough to cause serious degradation to other traffic besides the usual TCP drowning out. VM actually use WFQ downstream which helps.

      Are you aware of anyone having deployed LLD in production as yet?

    6. henry says:

      The MAPs will come more frequently, but they will also be equally small, so…

      I don’t think anybody is doing anything beyond testing at this point.

  7. JitteryPinger says:

    Another Virgin thread another bunch of people arguing for and against the company,

    I understand the complaining but whats the craic with the dending a multi million pound company.

    1. CarlT says:

      What’s the craic with random comments about how everyone must leave them?

      Some are happy as VM fulfil their needs. Some aren’t.

      The white knights and the trolls slagging off the company baselessly are opposite sides of the same coin to be honest.

      Not VM’s fault if they’re the only company that bothered to deeply ultrafast to an area. Their use of ‘monopolistic’ practices is minimal.

      I’m stuck with Openreach for now. You see me rant about how appalling they are because they won’t allow me to get another service?

      Get a grip. Life isn’t always as we’d want it to be and the reasons why are usually pretty complex.

    2. Onephat says:

      I just don’t get why people bother saying Virgin are crap blah blah blah. If you don’t like them don’t use them. If they’ve not cabled your street either get on with your life or move. Happy Virgin customer here, works fine and is generally reliable.

    3. Buggerlugz says:

      I’m very happy with Virgin currently. 112Mbps 24/7, zero downtime. £24 a month. Can’t grumble.

  8. Tam says:

    Gotta love Virgin Media, customer service isn’t the greatest but other than that it’s pretty reliable.

    1. David sobis says:

      nice joke I’m with virgin media on the m500 for £20 until rest of my contract but I’m leaving them in ten months time as I refuse to pay £62 for gig1 when you can get on three 5g broadband without tv atm is £26 and with tv is £29 a month on a 24 month contract I told them to shove it with £62 gig1 I just stick to m500 until my contracts up then I leave vm for good ..

    2. Winston Smith says:

      @David, so you’re planning to move from 516 Mbps down and 36 Mbps up for £20 to Three 5G with median 261 Mbps down and 13.7 Mbps up for £26 just becuase VMO2 won’t give you the same huge discount on 1 Gigabit that you have on M500.


    3. Alex Atkin says:

      I’m currently using Three 5G. On a good day I can do 530Mbit down, 15Mbit up. On a bad day, I have to revert to using my DSL lines because web pages stop loading.

      Problem is 5G is still using 4G for upstream, so when 4G is heavily loaded, 5G doesn’t work either.

      Wired broadband will ALWAYS be better than any form of wireless simply by virtue of the laws of physics.

  9. Icaras says:

    Light Source do actually work with Openreach also.

  10. cheesemp says:

    Got to be honest I know many love to hate on VM but I’d love a VM connection right now with only a low speed FTTC connection as an option. Really hoping they pick my town of 10000+ soon for deployment as there aren’t many others around us without and openreach have zero interest too (They’d rather deploy FTTP to a local rural exchange instead).

  11. Jay prakash yadav says:

    Hii I am graduate in Electrical & Electronics Engineering in 2016.
    I have almost five years in Telecom fiber field. I have worked in NLD, intracity , FTTX Project. I am excited to work in other countries .so please any opportunity let me know.

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