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Virgin Media Launches 50Mbps Broadband Service

Posted: 15th Dec, 2008 By: MarkJ
Virgin Media has finally taken the wrapping off its new 'up to' 50Mbps (XXL) super-fast cable broadband service, which will cost £51 inc. VAT per month and also offers upload speeds of 'up to' 1.5Mbps; 12 month minimum contract term applies.

Surprisingly the price can be reduced to just £35 per month if customers also opt for Virgin's additional phone line (Phone M) service at an extra £11 per month (£46 total). There's also a standard installation charge of £30 and a £50 activation fee.

Virgin has also taken the decision to drop traffic management and offer 'unlimited downloads', although a general acceptable use policy (AUP) does apply. Customers will also get a new DOCSIS3.0 modem, wireless 'N' router and free anti-virus/spyware software:

Neil Berkett, Virgin Media's CEO, said, "Today marks a historic moment, for both Virgin Media and the UK. As the first ISP to roll out next-generation broadband access, our 50Mb service represents the dawning of a new era of high-speed services in the UK and is just the beginning of what we hope to offer our customers over the coming years. This service will transform the way people interact and entertain themselves online and will provide a broadband experience that is truly world class."

Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: "We welcome the roll out of super-fast broadband in Virgin Media’s network. This will give millions of consumers the opportunity to take up faster broadband services. Alongside the plans announced by BT and other providers, this means that consumers can look forward to super-fast broadband in many areas of the UK.

Ofcom continues to work closely with industry and others to define the regulatory environment for super-fast broadband deployment. We expect to publish a statement on our proposals early in 2009.

Contrary to the PR blurb, Virgin is not the first to rollout a next-gen broadband service, with Ask4 and a number of other UK ISPs operating smaller fibre optic services. However Virgin's service will be on a national scale, piping BT to the post by a significant margin.

Coverage will of course take time, with Virgin's cable network being within reach of 12.6m homes. The operator hopes to have 40% of these covered by the end of 2008, with rollout completing sometime next summer. Areas of Scotland, the Midlands and South London (roughly 1.3m homes) will be among the first to receive the new service this month.

Meanwhile BT is busy preparing to spend £1.5bn on brining a 40 to 100Mbps service to within reach of 10 million homes by 2012. Lately though BT has been frustrated by Ofcom’s apparent feet dragging over regulatory issues, which threatens to delay the project. Not that BTs shareholders wouldn't mind the odd delay, they're a sceptical bunch.
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