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Virgin Media O2 Bring Gigabit Broadband to 10 Million UK Homes

Tuesday, September 7th, 2021 (9:00 am) - Score 11,064
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Broadband ISP Virgin Media (VMO2) has today switched-on their DOCSIS 3.1 network for a further 1.7 million UK premises, which means that a total of 10 million premises can now access speeds of 1130Mbps down and 52Mbps up. The latest areas include Blackpool, Cambridge, Leicester, Nottingham, Oxford, Swindon and more.

At present VMO2’s customers can already access top ultrafast speeds of c.630Mbps (Ultimate Oomph TV bundle) via the operator’s existing EuroDOCSIS 3.0 based Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network. But their ongoing upgrade to the latest DOCSIS 3.1 standard is gradually making gigabit speeds available across those same areas.

NOTE: D3.1 improves performance by utilising enhancements 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. This also supports other enhancements, like Distributed Access Architecture / Remote Phy (R-PHY) – here and here.

Until today, a little over 8 million premises had already gained access to this upgrade across big parts of London, N.Ireland, South Wales, Southampton, Manchester, Reading, Birmingham, Coventry, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds, Bradford, Glasgow, Bournemouth, Bristol, Northampton, Sunderland, Wolverhampton, Wigan and York, as well as various surrounding areas.

The rest of their network – c.15.5 million premises in total (likely to hit 16m by this time next year) – are planned to follow by the end of 2021.

Lutz Schüler, CEO of VMO2, said:

“We’re rapidly expanding our gigabit broadband network and more than 10 million homes across the UK can now access these next-generation speeds.

As the UK’s largest gigabit provider today, committed to connecting our entire network to these speeds by the end of the year, our investment is helping the UK meet its broadband targets and providing consumers with connectivity fit for the future.”

For the next few years’ Virgin Media will thus be able to claim that they’re the largest UK provider of gigabit speeds, even if it is only the on the downstream side (upstream is still stuck on the older D3.0 standard). By comparison, Openreach does plan to reach 25 million premises with gigabit FTTP by December 2026, but they’re currently only at 5 million+ and it will take time to catch-up.

Meanwhile, VMO2 does have a future “ambition” to expand their gigabit-capable broadband network (via FTTP) to reach an extra 7 million homes over the next 5-years. On top of that, they’ll also go back to upgrade their entire fixed line network – c.14.3 million premises in existing Hybrid Fibre Coax areas – to FTTP by the end of 2028 (here). A wholesale solution for UK ISPs to take is also being prepared.

Otherwise, customers who take out the related Gig1Fibre package from VMwill 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. 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.

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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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39 Responses
  1. Chris Sayers says:

    Oh big deal, whilst the download speed is impressive, upload is still vastly underwhelming, areas that are covered with coax are not likely to be upgrad upgraded anytime soon.

    Fortunately we have moved to FTTP and ditched VM.

    1. Steven Brown says:

      Can I ask why you need a higher upload?

    2. Chris Sayers says:

      Ops my tourets strikes again! upgrad “upgraded”

    3. Jahbulon says:

      I don’t get why so many people defend VMO2s horrible upload speed. Yes, the majority of users won’t care about upload. But I bet everyone has had a wait when uploading a video to google photos or uploading a video to your friend on whatsapp. Why does everyone act like upload is only for the privileged few and mere mortals have no need for upload?

      I download, maniuplate and upload large data sets. I also edit videos and upload them to youtube which takes HOURS when you’ve got a few measly megabits.

      Yes, VMs network is designed for downloading and thats what most customers want too. There is however no technical reason why VM has to limit themselves to 35mbit or 52mbit upload speeds. That’s a joke. The DOCSIS standards (both 3/3.1 and earlier) can support more than this. Gigabit areas will only be on DOCSIS 3.1 so why give such pathetic upload?

      The parent company liberty global offers higher upload speeds in Europe, so again why is the UK left with peanuts for upload? and why when people say they want more do people demand they explain themselves.

    4. Rich says:

      Jahbulon: Gigabit areas will only be on DOCSIS 3.1 so why give such pathetic upload?

      Not true, all VM areas still support D3.0, even when you have a SH4 on Gig1, the modem will lock (and use) up to 32 D3.0 channels as well as the D3.1 channel (although D3.1 isn’t really divided into channels in the same way).

      All VM areas are D3.0 upload only, there are no areas with D3.1 upload yet.

      That said, I agree, 55mbit upload on a 1gbit service is trash. However, it’s faster than I can get on FTTC and it seems Cityfibre are at least 12-18m out for me, so if/when they get around to my area with Gig1 I will likely switch back to them.

    5. Mike says:

      I’d rather have 100/100 than 330/33, would make work a lot easier.

    6. Mark says:

      @Steven Brown, For many upload speed is just as important as download speed, many things people do daily rely on upload.

      I do quite a lot of cloud backup and the limited upload makes this painfully slow, also, I access my home network from home quite a lot and again upload speed is more important.

      I get many may not have the need but in this day and age symmetrical connections should be the standard.

      Asymmetrical only existed due to limitations in older technology and even to this day hinders upload speed but thankfully with FTTP providers you can finally get symmetrical speeds at whatever you choose unless you use openreach.

    7. Chris Sayers says:

      Do you really think @Steven Brown VM would be upgrading their network if the competition was not increasing FTTP rollout is a real and serious threat to their business?

      I am the classic example of that, why jump ship if was unhappy with their broadband, I’ve gone from a 20MB upload to a 72MB upload

      https://www.speedtest.net/result/d/36f12bda-75b3-4823-9333-7605b84b0eba.png

      The other thing that has been a net benefit, Amazon prime video, the times we would lose the connection and it would drop out. we were on a 200MB download with VM

      https://www.speedtest.net/result/d/17c4c177-b7b6-4d15-bad7-1f315f875e57.png

      I believe the dropouts from prime video were the poor unstable connection we had due to the infrastructure in the street, during the summer months it was generally fine, winter/wet weather was more problematic.

      @Jahbulon echos exactly what I would have said.

      On another note divorcing ourselves from VM has been a painfully slow process https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2021/09/ofcom-shames-virgin-media-over-broadband-and-tv-complaints.html

      I have correspondence to and from VM executive office on the matter, so yes VM are not the great company they make out, I am happy for @Mark Jackson to see that correspondence.

    8. Dave says:

      Some people always have to see the negatives, don’t they!

  2. Clem Dye says:

    VMO2 upload speeds are pretty poor. I can get faster using my EE 4G mobile ‘phone as a wireless hot spot. My 350Mbit download speed is more than adequate for my household needs, but an upload speed of circa 35Mbit is just too slow for large data uploads to the likes of Google Drive, iCloud, etc., or for just moving large chunks of data around generally.

    CityFibre has been busy in my area lying cables everywhere and services are due to be offered this year by several operators, from what I can make out. If so, and I can get a better package with faster uploads, I’ll switch. VMO2’s prices are getting quite hefty now for a basic broadband and landline ‘phone package, and the company doesn’t seem keen to take care of existing, long-term customers, but that’s a topic for a different discussion.

  3. adslmax says:

    Openreach upload and VM upload both are pretty very poor indeed. We need Symmetrical FTTP

  4. Buggerlugz says:

    Hmm, still on DOCSIS 3 here, in Nottingham…..

    1. hammy says:

      Same for me i live near Leicester

    2. Jamie Simms says:

      It appears very little of Leicester has actually been upgraded to support the Gig1 service a couple of my colleagues in the office tried to order it today but was told not available.

      I tried to order for my parents in Birstall who can’t even get FTTC let alone FTTP or CityFibre but was told the area is already too over subscribed so no plans to offer Gig1 in this area

  5. Jahbulon says:

    They upgraded our area to Gigabit some time in the last 6 months.

    They never even mentioned it. And it’s not super obvious how to find out. If I go to the VMO2 website and pop in my postcode, it comes up at 600mbit max. If I go to the gig1 website then I can get 1150/52 apparently. Why did they keep it a secret (we’re not on any do not mail list etc)

    Not that I’d want gigabit with 52mbit up anyway. I’d rather have 500/500 or even 300/100. I bet half the people with gigabit are either rich kids where mummy and daddy are paying for son to get 110MB/sec from playstation network or people who like to show off. There’s very little need for gigabit unless you lived in a large family where everyone is streaming UHD streams and downloading large files all day long.

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      It tells you in your router information page

    2. Connor says:

      I like how you went from 50mbps not being enough upload to most people on the package being rich kids.

      As much as I would like more upload speed Virgin could just as easily do 25mbps and still claim they’re faster than the competition.

      It will all change in due time especially with the Government “gigabit capable” bracket being 200mbps upload and increasing competition from Full Fibre providers.

      I’ve heard from some that Virgin have been installing 3.1 upstream kit in their cabs too so there’s a plan in the works somewhere.

    3. MikeyMole says:

      Yup I spoke with a VM Engineer recently who was working on a cab by my house and he seemed certain that 3.1 would be on both dl and up in time – said they had been installing kit for it.

  6. Amigos says:

    it’s not why you need. It’s a standard thing 50mbps upload is definitely too low. Technology always moving forward. And people been using 500mbps download and upload since 2006. So the problem is british knows nothing about internet connection. That’s why most of customers suffer with low unstable bad speeds. I can only get 10mbps upload speed in 2021. That’s like a big joke. British people like to use old slow internet no idea why.

    1. Jahbulon says:

      I think your daily mail is leaking … Don’t do the “British” thing. It’s owned by Liberty Global .. an AMERICAN company. There are plenty of UK ISPs offering faster upload. Some like hyperoptic will do symmetric 100/100 or 1000/1000.

    2. Roger_Gooner says:

      Hyperoptic’s 2% shares of the UK’s broadband market hardly gives most of us the option of choosing them, does it. And don’t make me laugh about Virgin Media’s American ownership and suggesting Hyperoptic as an alternative when the owner of Hyperoptic is KKR – an American comapny.

    3. Sam Wiltshire says:

      If your like me and still have 20/1 Mbit speeds in a large seaside town because nobody seems to bother with a certain area the 55mbit upload would be amazing. Although it’s still not enough considering more and more are backing up to cloud services, working from home.

      I would quote happily take 500/100 or even 300/300.

  7. Gavin says:

    Over here in Oldham their website is a tease.

    If I select Broadband Gig1 shows up. But when I select it I get this message;

    ‘Gig1 Fibre Broadband is unavailable in your area but the great news is you can still choose from one of our other speedy plans’

  8. Chris says:

    I’m in Stockport – where Gig1 has been ‘available’ for almost 2 years. But it is only available for some parts of Stockport. Not sure why this is the case, I don’t fully understand.

    I would like it if VM were more transparent with their plans and their network. This way I can make informed decisions.

  9. anon says:

    It would be much better to focus on rolling out DOCSIS 3.1 to as many premises as possible in towns/villages, than worry about average upload speeds (for now). This is also true from a business point of view, most customers will be pleased to get 1gbps download speeds.

    52mbps upload is still better than the competition in FTTC areas, I’d expect this to be improved within the next 2-3 years. I’d imagine you could have another virgin line fitted, then combine upload on these lines with a VPN service like speedify, in the meantime.

  10. anon says:

    Also, I think ISPs (except some FTTP providers) tend to increase upload speed only up to the point of supporting higher download speeds, as higher upstream throughput is required to support higher downstream throughput.

  11. Steve says:

    When is Virgin going to supply a router that can fully utilise the 1130 mbit i think it is download. Gigabit ports seem silly. Yes probably cost but it doesn’t seem fair they advertise 1 gig but apparently you’ll get less than that

    1. Chris says:

      Use 2 ports and speed test across both ( different devices if necessary)

      How / what is the WiFi on the hub 4?

      My ancient AirPort Extreme will happily sync at 1300 mbs I’ve not tried a test connecting to 2 devices hanging off its ports but I’d assume the hub 4 could saturate its wan link from WiFi.

    2. Doma2345 says:

      I read that also their hub 4 only supports 900mbs on the lan ports (I think it was in a youtube video) it doesnt have gigabit ports.

      I would upgrade to their 1 gig tariff if it was avialable in my area (woodford, essex (redbridge)) simply to gain the extra upload speed. We dont have g-fast or the top tier fiber packages from openreach in our area so for decent upload/download are stuck with virgin and FTTP is a long way off for us.

    3. Winston Smith says:

      The VM router can easily use the full 1130 Mbps as long as more than one device is connected.

      It does have 4 gigabit LAN ports but the max data throughput on 1GbE ethernet is about 930 Mbps due to protocol overhead.

    4. mike says:

      Chris that advice is no good for people using it in modem mode. It needs a 2.5G port.

  12. SM says:

    The abysmal upload speeds makes this a no-go for me. The amount of time I waste waiting around for 10gb video files to upload is crazy.

  13. Billy Bear says:

    Tell Richard to gio back into space and never come back lol

  14. David W says:

    While faster upload speeds would obviously be better, for the vast majority of VM customers, there’s no alternative ISP that can offer faster speeds.

    1. David sobis says:

      I beg to differ on that one Dave I’m using three 5G home broadband £22 getting speeds of 750 mpbs I was a virgin media customer I cancelled as they to Dam greedy so i switched to 5G home broadband .

    2. David W says:

      I said “the vast majority of VM customers” – that would exclude Three’s 5G Home Broadband service.

  15. Marcus B says:

    I’ve just moved into a house which sits on a street where all except one of my neighbours has a VM contract. We signed up, all the websites said we could get up to 500mbs, agents told us the same. 24 hours before install an engineer apparently cancelled the entire install (without telling us) because there isn’t a cable running to our house and they won’t lay one (not cost effective). So actually they provide no service to my house but all the service checkers including their own still says they do. They of course tried to charge me a disconnection fee when I then had to finish my contract and not move it with me… So I’m not entirely sure what I believe, upload and download is pretty irrelevant if you don’t even have a cable despite all the service checkers (and VM themselves) telling you they do. Do they even know who can access what!? N.B. I’m in Nottingham where they’ve apparently just finished so I guess I’m done for the next decade or so…

  16. Steve Davis says:

    False news.
    It is not true.
    Only selected parts of each area.
    I am in Leicester saw the news rang for upgrade told not available and they don’t know when it will be.
    I informed the gent on the other end of the phone that I would be reporting false news.
    Leicester was supposed to be upgraded by last November and was delayed time and again.
    BT have fast fibre network in Leicester at present.

  17. Nathan Houghton says:

    Very disappointed to find out the same as Steve.

    I live in Nottingham and once again. I’m told it’s not available in my area.

    This is getting beyond a joke now.

    Hopefully virgin media fix this False advertising and start giving a granular neighborhood view of where they’ve enabled because stating you’ve enabled a City is False advertising!

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