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ISP Virgin Media O2 Completes UK Gigabit Broadband Rollout UPDATE

Tuesday, December 7th, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 6,480

Broadband ISP Virgin Media (VMO2) has today switched-on their last batch of DOCSIS 3.1 network upgrades, which has put an additional 1.1 million homes within reach of “gigabit” download speeds (1130Mbps down and 52Mbps up) and means that c.65% of UK premises should now be covered by “gigabit-capable broadband.”

The final batch of locations to be upgraded aren’t named in the announcement, but we understand that they include Exeter, Poole, Plymouth, Norwich, Luton, Loughbrough, Oldham, Rochdale and parts of Surrey and Hertfordshire which weren’t upgraded earlier in the year. Prior to today, VMO2 had already upgraded 14.3 million of their covered premises to the new cable standard, and the latest change will complete this picture for all 15.5 million.

NOTE: D3.1 utilises enhancements like Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), which can encode data by using multiple carrier frequencies, and boosts 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 good chunk of VMO2’s customers on the operator’s existing EuroDOCSIS 3.0 based Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network could already access top ultrafast speeds of c.630Mbps (Ultimate Oomph TV bundle), but by adopting the D3.1 standard they’ve been able to significantly boost the downstream performance up to 1Gbps (potentially hitting 2Gbps+ in the future).

As a result of all this Virgin Media has, in a fairly short amount of time (2 years), put all 15.5 million of their covered premises within reach of gigabit-capable broadband download speeds. This, when combined with rival FTTP deployments from other operators, should push the UK’s overall gigabit coverage to around 65% (FTTP providers alone deliver about 29%, but a fair bit of that includes overbuild with VMO2).

Lutz Schüler, CEO of VMO2, said:

“Just two years ago we set out to spearhead the UK’s gigabit revolution and today we’ve delivered. Our investment to bring gigabit broadband to every home on our network has catapulted the UK’s digital infrastructure forward by a decade and forced others to up their game.

As the country’s largest gigabit provider by far, we’re the driving force behind widespread gigabit availability four years ahead of the Government’s target.

Having reached this major milestone in just two years, we’re doubling down on our mission to upgrade the UK by continuing to innovate and invest in our network to support the technologies of tomorrow – there’s no slowing down at Virgin Media O2.”

Nadine Dorries MP, UK Digital Secretary, said:

“Getting high speed broadband into everyone’s homes is a top priority and Virgin Media O2’s efforts mean we’re making quick progress in our mission to level up the UK with better connectivity.

We must ensure that rural areas are not left behind, which is why alongside industry’s roll out we’re investing up to £5 billion to make top-of-the-range speeds available in hard-to-reach communities.”

The catch here is that future progress will be much slower, since it will come almost entirely from fresh FTTP deployments that take a lot longer to build than simply upgrading existing kit and will probably first need to overbuild a lot of VMO2’s gigabit-capable patch. On top of that, VMO2’s upgrade still leaves the upstream side of their network stuck on the old D3.0 standard, which is why the speed is just c.50Mbps.

One trial, which was conducted last year, did however boost uploads to 214Mbps by applying D3.1 to the upstream side (here), but it remains unclear when or even if they’ll deploy this. More recent trials, which had similar characteristics to the first one, have seen uploads drop back to 50Mbps (here and here). In other words, we can expect a 2Gbps package in the future, but a question mark will continue to hover over uploads.

However, for the next few years’ VMO2 will still be able to claim that they’re the largest UK provider of gigabit speeds, even if it is only the on the downstream side. By comparison, arch rival Openreach (BT) plans to reach 25 million premises with gigabit FTTP by December 2026 (c.80% of the UK), but they’re currently only at 6 million+ and playing a long game of catch-up with VMO2.

Meanwhile, VMO2 has previously stated a vague “ambition” to expand their newest FTTP network 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 HFC areas – to XGS-PON based symmetric speed FTTP by the end of 2028 (here). A wholesale solution for UK ISPs is also expected.

NOTE: VMO2 are investing £10bn on fixed line and 5G upgrades over the next 5-years.

Customers who take out the related Gig1Fibre package from Virgin Media today will usually be sent a D3.1 capable HUB 4.0 (TG3492LG-VMB / Gigabit Connect Box) router, and you can see the specification for that in this article. But they’ve also launched a much more capable HUB 5.0 (Sagemcom F3896LG-VMB) router (details), although this is technically still more of a pre-launch trial.

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 their various Pay TV and phone bundles, albeit at extra cost.


One final point to make here is that there’s sometimes a short additional gap of time between VMO2 making such announcements and the change actually becoming live. Virgin has informed us that their website/checker hasn’t yet been updated to fully reflect today’s news.

In addition, Virgin Media has informed us that today’s final 1.1 million premises came from Exeter, Poole, Plymouth, Norwich, Luton, Loughbrough, Oldham, Rochdale and parts of Surrey and Hertfordshire which weren’t upgraded earlier in the year. We’ve updated the article above to reflect this.

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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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61 Responses
  1. MikeyMole says:

    Bravo VM! Whatever the haters will say (and we know they’re a plenty), getting a national network upgraded in 2 years is pretty good going.

    NOW… get that 3.1 Upstream with AQM switched on and roll out those hub 5s!

    1. anonymous says:

      Might even be some LLD testing in prospect.

    2. anonymous says:

      Certainly can. Whether they will or not is of course a different matter.

  2. hammy says:

    I can still only get 600 according to their website. In a village near Loughborough.

    1. David Wheatley says:

      Also get M600 max in some post codes around Redhill, which have always been a bit iffy on VM.

    2. AQX says:

      Their website probably won’t be updated to reflect it until late tomorrow morning, knowing VM.

    3. Onephat says:

      Hi Hammy

      Same here in Shepshed. I’ll be giving them a call later.

    4. hammy says:

      It’s updated now and says I can get it yayy

    5. Onephat says:

      @Hammy. Same here upgrade on Friday at a £0 monthly increase.

  3. Optimist says:

    Here in Norwich, I am still on DOCSIS 3.0 according to my VM Superhub.

    1. Rich says:

      Which model is it? SH4 or SH5?

      Have you rebooted it this morning since the announcement?

    2. Jon says:

      You won’t get DOCSIS 3.1 unless you take the Gig1 service – and even then it will only use a single channel of 3.1 in the downstream.

    3. anonymous says:

      Hub 3 and below are 3.0 only. 4 and 5 will lock to 3.1 channels regardless of tier. If there’s enough capacity present 3.0 is fine.

    4. anon-e-mouse says:

      “You won’t get DOCSIS 3.1 unless you take the Gig1 service”.


      I’m on 350 and I’m on 3.1

    5. Optimist says:

      “Hub 3 and below are 3.0 only. 4 and 5 will lock to 3.1 channels regardless of tier. If there’s enough capacity present 3.0 is fine.”

      That explains it, thanks. I still have a Hub 1, but as it isn’t broke I won’t fix it until I have to (probably when the phone goes digital).

    6. anonymous says:

      Worth remembering that the Hub 4 / 5 both lock to 32 3.0 channels, 1.6 Gbit/s of capacity, and lock to a single 3.1 channel for now but that channel uses as much spectrum as 12 3.0 channels and provides as much capacity as over 18 of them.

      Hub 3 locks to 24 3.0 channels, 1.2 Gbit/s of capacity, Hub 1 and 2 8 3.0 channels, 400 Mbit/s of capacity.

      However, if on 200 Mbit/s and there’s 200 Mbit/s free, whether on 8 channels or 32 + 3.1 OFDM, you’ll get 200 Mbit/s.

      Hub 4 only becomes essential for gigabit down, Hub 5 for a tier above Gig1 to use its 2.5G Ethernet port.

      Should see more and more Hub 4 and 5 devices arriving – once there are enough of them VM will drop some 3.0 upstream channels and use the spectrum for 3.1.

  4. Ryan says:

    Inb4 people come on moaning about upload.

    The upload is better then I get down so I am jealous of those who complain.

    I shouldn’t grumble though – Virgin put some boxes up in the town 4+ years ago which are going a lovely light grey colour and nothing has happened since.

    Roll on 2026 when BT upgrade us apparently – not holding my breath

    1. anonymous says:

      Given you hate them so much you seem desperate to give them your money, Damien.

      You still aren’t entitled to the service, though. They can refuse to invest their money in your area because they don’t like the street name if they choose. Local technicians aren’t likely to know why a street wasn’t included in the rollout. They aren’t involved in the build.

      Usually cost related, which can be caused by anything from the composition of the street to how congested the pavements are. VM will generally not build in streets where they have to use the carriageways and if service strips are congested in block paved streets that’s a big issue too.

    2. Ryan says:

      Damien – they have put the boxes up but nothing since, they are empty and no sign of life.

      I would give anything for your speed – we are currently fighting with 25/3 here with BT FTTC – No G fast, No FTTP, no virgin

    3. anonymous says:

      I was referring to what’s under the pavement, not what may or may not be on top of it.

      Openreach should be along at some point.

    4. cityacademy atgmaildotcom says:

      If you let me get all the sales/referral fees’s then I’m happy to sort it out for you 😉

  5. Meadmodj says:

    Yes its good they have given themselves a new lease of life, better speed in the HFC areas and provide competition against others.

    But “today we’ve delivered”, not quite. Is there going to be any progress regarding increased network capacity (VM products still buffering at times on streaming) ?, consistency of lower product speeds (M350 still below 200 in practice) ?, replacement of Hub 3s ?

    1. Peter says:

      Yes, with 3.1 this should improve. However it still seems that only their Gig1 package is using it.

    2. anonymous says:

      Capacity increases are ongoing. There are segments with 2.4 Gbit/s of 3.0 capacity and 96 MHz of 4k QAM 3.1. More 3.1 to come.

      Any tier with a hub 4 or 5 will use the 3.1 capacity. Seeding 3.1 hubs is part of capacity planning.

    3. Meadmodj says:

      Timescales for existing HFC customers would be nice. It is in VM interests too. Otherwise many may choose to move off VM around here. Regardless of any theoretical performance (or successive speed testing) what counts is when someone using moderate speed requirements sits down to watch TV or WFH during the busy periods.

    4. anonymous says:

      Downstream congestion is minimal and where there are issues there should be date for resolution as normal. Business as usual capacity updates continue, just no more spectrum upgrades / overbuild of HFC with HFC.

    5. Meadmodj says:

      I can only state what I and neighbours are experiencing. Fault escalation has made a difference previously but it deteriorates again.

    6. anonymous says:

      Less than 2% of areas are congested. Sorry you’re in that group. Their technical support team should be able to provide details if there’s an open fault.

  6. Sarah says:

    I hate Virgin Media worse customer service – they only care is taking your money with poor service!

    1. anonymous says:

      If that’s you, Phil, I take it you tried to get a deal on Gig1 and it wasn’t forthcoming?

    2. Badem says:

      I had similar experience with VM.
      Service went off, logged it, took more than 3 days to come back online, asked for the Auto Comp to be applied, was told it would be, 2 months later still no credit, chased them got told it did not apply to my account and they could not find the previous case that stated it was.

      VM are the utter worst for communication, despite telling them multiple times that account holder is profoundly deaf and to communicate via email or other written medium they simply kept phoning then closing complaints as unable to make contact.

      Reprehensible behaviour.

      Luckily MJ Quinn have been installing the FTTP infrastructure in the area on the poles so come my contract expiration date I can switch to a more helpful provider

  7. Paul kater says:

    I hate Virgin Media worse customer service – they only care is taking your money with poor service! Anyone butter virgin media 02 is a virgin shill yes I am a hater because virgin media rip off prices with there broadband

    £62 for 1 measly gig when you can get 5g homebroadband on a mobile network company faster speeds for less than what virgin offers .

    Talk about rip off Tory scum Britain .virgin media can jog on .

    1. anonymous says:

      If you don’t like the price the package is offered at don’t buy it from them. Simple.

  8. mike says:

    Gig1 is finally available in Norwich. Not sure why we’re in the last batch when they did lots of random tiny towns first.

    1. anonymous says:

      The capabilities of your local cable network. It needed upgrading to clear spectrum.

    2. BTRival says:

      Your Norwich CATV network was PRE-HISTORIC! It was a terrible analogue system back in the days when it 1st launched. All this needed extensive upgrading before Gig1Fibre was even possible. Be thankful they didn’t just pull the plug like in Milton Keynes, Washington (Tyre&Wear) and Westminster Cable areas which were owned by BT, but leased to Virgin. Virgin wanted to upgrade to carry Cable broadband and TV but BT refused. So Virgin then cancelled all the lenses. BT then ditched the networks entirely. So just be grateful for your 1gig upgrade!

    3. mike says:

      Weird because it was always done by half way through rollouts such as 50Mb

    4. anonymous says:

      Eventually it ran out of room and had to be rebuilt to add more. Others that had required rebuild earlier were good to go as they’d been upgraded already.

  9. FTTPNotDOCSIS3 4ALL says:

    I can order 1gig VM in Llanelli just been switched on.

  10. must be a hater says:

    Expensive gigabit.

    1. Gregowski says:

      Thats why im waiting for Toob and also get symmetrical 900mb for 25 pounds…

      Never going back to VM

  11. Sam says:

    That upload speed on a 1Gbps package is laughable. VM’s upload speeds have always been a joke.

    I remember as a student in 2010 taking out their 50Mbps service, and was surprised to find the upload was only 1Mbps – I matched that on my ADSL service!

    Did the calculations and discovered 1Mbps was the bare minimum required to send all necessary ACK’s to saturate the 50Mbps download.

    Literally as low as they could get away with. Actually surprised it’s 50Mbps up and not 20!

    1. anonymous says:

      The 1.75 on the original 50 package wasn’t great though it was more than enough for acknowledgements given both cumulative acknowledgement and ack suppression. VM’s upload speeds are about standard for European cable and superior to most of North America. To go above 100 will cost serious money so they’re skipping that upgrade and going to full fibre.

    2. Optimist says:

      “VM’s upload speeds have always been a joke.”

      Comments such as this get trotted out ad nauseam on this forum. The fact is that many people do not require a high upload speed. Should thay become an issue for me I will switch to another ISP.

    3. Sam says:

      “The fact is that many people do not require a high upload speed.”

      A statement which is becoming less and less true as most people discovered during the pandemic with Cloud storage, O365, working from home etc.

      Do you know the size of most video recordings taken on todays modern smartphones? 4K@30fps sometimes in HDR. They reach into the 100’s of MB’s just for a few minutes, even encoded in HEVC.

      My father in law constantly complains about is iPhone and iPad not syncing videos – they do, it just takes ages on his paltry upload.

      It’s all about ratio. On ADSL it was 20:1. On VDSL it was 4:1. This VM package is 20:1 again. Backwards step.

      Cityfibre are building in my area. I’ll take their 1:1 package as soon as I can.

    4. Anonymous says:

      “The fact is that many people do not require a high upload speed”.

      And comments like these get repeated ad-nauseum here too. Perhaps you could stop deciding what people want for them, and let them decide if they need extra upload bandwidth or not. Newsflash but the majority of people reading ISPReview are probably not your average computer user with no clue how any of it all works.

    5. Winston Smith says:

      The ACK bandwidth is much lower than you think due to DOCSIS ACK supression.


      ‘Just as a data point from my home connection, I have 250/50 (down/up) and
      when downloading at 250 megabit/s, the upstream traffic is reduced by
      approximately 20x, so instead of sending 10 megabit/s (or so) of ACKs, I
      see approximately 500 kilobits/s of ACKs.’

  12. Paul smith says:


    “Comments such as this get trotted out ad nauseam on this forum. The fact is that many people do not require a high upload speed. Should thay become an issue for me I will switch to another ISP.”

    Your just a virgin media apologist sheep

    1. anonymous says:

      If you don’t like what Virgin Media offer don’t buy it. It’s that simple. It’s not being an apologist to note that millions are using Virgin Media despite their upload ratio, and almost no-one is forced to use VMO2.

      I dumped VM 50Mb in favour of ADSL as I didn’t appreciate the service. I’m surprised people that are apparently so passionate feel they’re entitled to VM delivering them the service they want rather than leaving the company even if it means a hit to the speeds. Though of course if it’s a hit to the speeds that tells you something.

    2. anonymous says:


      ‘Your just a virgin media apologist sheep’

      *You’re* just a *V*irgin *M*edia apologist sheep*.*’

      I guess learning the language was just too much like being a sheep for you?

    3. Optimist says:

      “Your just a virgin media apologist sheep”

      1. “You’re” not “Your”

      2. Grow up!

  13. jason7851 says:

    Upgrade now available in Torquay, it actually looks like the whole of Devon has been switched on in one fell swoop going from volt 600 to volt 1 gig no extra charge, hub 4 coming on this Thursday

    1. Nick says:

      Thats nice. When they want to charge me 25 connection fee and an extra 19 pound as my m600 ultimate omph is 89.00. Plus a new 18month contract.I was told the upgrade from m600 to 1 gig would be free at the time of y contract back in April. But now they are saying nope if I want to upgrade it will cost. I’ve asked them to listen to the phone conversation before I agreed to the last contract. Not pleased.

  14. Spurple says:

    It’s been available to me for a while, and I’m okay with the price but I set myself a rule that I will upgrade when they start routinely giving out the hub 5 or if a competitor comes along that offers higher upload speeds.

    OpenReach thinks they can upgrade my neighbourhood by 2024 so hopefully not a long wait till I get gigabit broadband.

    1. anonymous says:

      That’s fair!

  15. Full fibre diet says:

    Virgin media became available on my street few months ago. Still can only order up to 350 package.

    1. SymetricalAccess says:

      They expanded their coverage and installed FTTP here a few years ago. Gigabit download only just became available. Still not ordered because the upload isn’t enough and you know it’s virgin media, they don’t give a damn and have shocking customer service.

      Cityfibre and going to install and now BT too apparently. So will wait for one of those and this FTTC will do for now, over 10 years and counting.

      To those still saying most don’t need faster upload. That’s the wrong way to think about it, you can’t use what you don’t have. Does my current upload usage indicate what I need, no because it would be a lot higher if the speed increased. People will find a use for faster upload speeds just as they have for download.

    2. anonymous says:

      Not really. Usage doesn’t go up close to as much as maximum speeds do. I do the same things I did before just faster.

      Actually lowered the capacity I had available as it was so pointless.

      No killer app in either direction that needs huge capacity just yet.

  16. TC says:

    Oversubscribed, laggy for gaming, crap router, expensive, co axial cables that will struggle beyond what they put on them, 52mb upload is a joke. Load if crap. O and the worst customer service

    1. anonymous says:

      Coaxial cable will be good for 3 GHz. They use less than 1/3rd this.

  17. Steve Bowden says:

    Upgraded to Gig1 from my previous 650mpbs package and the new Hub 4 arrived, went to install to find that my new Hub 4 had been sent with a PSU which didn’t fit the Hib 4, stillw waiting for VM to send replacment PSU, when you Google this issue, it seems lots of people are in the same boat when they recived there Hub 4 PSU, this has been reported as far back as September 2020, why are earth are VM still sending out new Hub 4 with a Hub 3 PSU ??

    BTW can anyone kindly tell me the model number of a working PSU and voltage please as not sure when I will actually get a working HUB 4 PSU.

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