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By: MarkJ - 22 July, 2011 (12:17 PM)
virgin media uk 1Gbps best broadbandCable operator Virgin Media UK has issued an update on the progress of its ultra fast 1.5Gbps download speed (150Mbps uploads) trial in East London, which was first announced three months ago (here). Business customers in Old Street (aka - Silicon Roundabout) are now understood to be receiving the service.

The trial, which Virgin claims to be the "world's fastest cable connection" (that really depends upon your definition of "cable"), uses the same Cable Modem / DOCSIS3.0 style technology as the operator employs for its 100Mbps capable consumer service (currently being rolled out to half of the country by mid-2012).

Jon James, executive director of broadband at Virgin Media, said:

"As people are simultaneously connecting more gadgets to the internet and doing more online than ever before, we wanted to explore what our unique fibre optic network is capable of. At speeds of up to 1.5Gb, Virgin Media is delivering some of the fastest broadband in the world and, thanks to our ongoing investment, we're able to anticipate and lead the way in meeting growing demand for bandwidth as future services and applications come online."

Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, commented:

"It is fantastic to see the fastest internet speeds in the world over cable being trialled here in the UK.

This exciting development will help attract new companies and entrepreneurs to the area, bringing new jobs and growth to this part of the capital.

Last year the Prime Minister set out our ambition for London's East End to become a world-leading technology city to rival Silicon Valley. Developments like Virgin Media's will help make this ambition a reality."

Virgin claims to have spent £13 billion of private investment on helping to ensure that every cable home is connected to a "state-of-the-art fibre optic network by a high-grade coaxial line" (i.e. Virgin's network is a hybrid of fibre optic and coaxial cable, often with some copper too).

Sadly such speeds aren't likely to reach consumers anytime soon as to do so today would require far too much channel bonding and isn't economically viable. At present it would be very difficult for home users to expect beyond 400Mbps via cable, although technology is always moving forward. A 200Mbps service is already under trial for launch in 2012 or 2013.

Meanwhile BT is attempting to compete by upgrading its fledgling 'up to' 40Mbps FTTC service to 80Mbps next year, while its true 1Gbps capable fibre optic FTTP service will only reach a maximum of 2.5 million premises. By contrast Virgin's cable network can reach 13 million.
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