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UPDATE Virgin Media UK Extend Cable Network to Cover 100k New Homes in 2011

Posted: 08th Aug, 2011 By: MarkJ
ukvirgin media uk broadband upload speed p2p traffic managementCable giant Virgin Media UK has confirmed that the reach of its cable ( DOCSIS3 ) based superfast broadband, tv and phone network will be expanded to cover an additional 100,000 homes by the end of 2011. The city of Southampton will be one of the main beneficiaries, with Virgin almost doubling its existing presence there.

The move is part of Virgin's original expansion plan, which was first announced back in 2009 (here) and envisages a total coverage improvement of 500,000 additional homes over the next few years. At present Virgin's network already covers 13 million premises (48% of the UK) and over £13bn has been spent upon improving its services and infrastructure.

Virgin has already expanded to cover 73,000 of their 100,000 target this year, which includes parts of Derry (Northern Ireland) and Staines. Some 50,000 new homes were also added back in 2009 and a similar number in 2010, which suggests that by the end of 2011 the cable operator could be almost halfway through their proposed network expansion.

Jon James, Virgin Media’s Executive Director of Broadband, said:

"By extending our unique fibre optic network to parts of the country previously outside our traditional heartland, we're ensuring more people can experience the compelling advantages that a superfast connection can bring and in doing so, support the Government's digital ambitions.

Today’s increasingly digital lifestyle requires better broadband and we've seen a strong response from the communities we expand into who are crying out for quality services. We're adding thousands of homes to our network every month as our expansion programme continues and we look for opportunities to give more people access to the fastest broadband and best in home entertainment."

Separately Virgin Media is also a key partner in Fujitsu's potentially tedious plans to deploy a 1Gbps capable superfast Fibre-to-the-Home ( FTTH ) based broadband network (here), which seeks to reach 5 Million homes in rural areas by 2016 and act as an alternative to BT's national platform.

Virgin confirmed to ISPreview.co.uk last month that it was, as part of Fujitsu's Open Access Wholesale Network (OAWN) scheme, "heavily involved" with the UK governments recently announced £2bn tender for a new national framework agreement to help bring superfast broadband (25Mbps+) ISP services to 90% of "people in each local authority area" by 2015 (here).

The plan is highly dependent upon BT, which will give OAWN crucial access to their underground cable ducts and telegraph poles through a process called Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA). The first practical trials by Fujitsu of PIA officially began last week in Wirral, although the product itself looks set to be delayed unless all of the involved parties can agree upon a fair price; many rivals accuse BT of setting its PIA prices too high.

Meanwhile Virgin Media is also continuing to trial future upgrades to its existing cable network, with a 200Mbps download and 20Mbps upload speed service looking set for launch at some point over the next couple of years; a 400Mbps product is also possible further down the line, although both will depend upon demand. At present it's hard enough for home users to take full advantage of Virgin's top-tier 100Mbps link, let alone 200Mbps or even 400Mbps.

We'll add some additional information and quotes to this article once Virgin Media has released its official press release.

UPDATE 10:55am

Added the official press comment.
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