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UPDATE3 ISP Virgin Media UK Doubles its Customers Cable Broadband Speeds

Posted: 11th Jan, 2012 By: MarkJ
virgin media uk 100mb superhubvirgin media uk 100mb best broadbandCable giant Virgin Media has today announced a major £110m upgrade that will at least double the broadband speeds for over four million of its internet access customers (does not apply to ADSL2+ based Virgin.net / Virgin National customers). The one exception is Virgin's latest 100Mbps package, which will instead be increased to 120Mbps and that's before its national rollout has even finished (due mid-2012).
Planned VirginMedia Download Speed Upgrades
* 10Mb increased to 20Mb [2Mbps Uploads]
* 20Mb and 30Mb increased to 60Mb [6Mbps Uploads]
* 50Mb increased to 100Mb 120Mbps [10Mbps 12Mbps Uploads]
* 100Mb increased to 120Mb [12Mbps Uploads]
The mass roll-out will start in February 2012 and continue for over 18 months with completion expected to occur by the middle of 2013. Virgin Media also states that its upstream speeds and fair usage Traffic Management amounts will be boosted in proportion to the increase in downstream speed.

Virgin Media's CEO, Neil Berkett, said:

"The burgeoning market for better connectivity has given us an opportunity to transform the digital experience of millions of our customers and to bring about a massive step change in the number of UK consumers who have access to exciting, next generation services. Virgin Media has a track record of leading Britain’s digital development and this major initiative will meet the growing demand for faster broadband as well as provide significantly more value to our customers.

The internet has become an integral part of our social, work and family lives, so we think our customers are going to love this. As people are increasingly doing more online, and getting connected to the internet with lots of different devices, having a fast, reliable broadband service should not be a luxury. We want to make sure that consumers have access to the best value broadband service and that means a superfast connection.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

"I welcome this announcement from Virgin Media; it will provide a great boost for the economy and change the way many households, consumers and businesses use the internet. Rolling out superfast broadband across the country is a critical part of our plan to upgrade the UK’s infrastructure and build a new and smarter economy."

Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt, added:

"Faster broadband speeds are great for customers and great for business, which is why our policy is to deliver superfast broadband to 90% of the country by 2015. Virgin Media’s plans to double broadband speeds are really exciting and we applaud their ambition."

Regular readers will recall that the cable (DOCSIS) operator has performed similar mass upgrades in the past and today's effort will no doubt be just as warmly welcomed as those. Crucially it also helps to retain the operators bragging rights by exceeding BT's own 100-110Mbps capable FTTP technology, although BT plans to increase this to 300Mbps during the spring.

But it's important to remember that BT's FTTP service will only reach a small fraction (2.5 Million premises) of Virgin Media's 120Mbps packages, which by contrast should soon be within reach of 13 million households (half the country). As a result Virgin's move is perhaps more designed to combat BT's larger scale up to 40Mbps FTTC service ( BT-Infinity ), which will shortly be upgraded to 80Mbps and can almost reach 40% of UK homes (rising to 66% or more by the end of 2015).

UPDATE 10:54am

Forgot to add the new upload rates, corrected.

UPDATE 12th January 2012

Added a comment from ISP Hyperoptic UK below.

Dana Pressman Tobak, MD of Hyperoptic, said:

"The news today that Virgin plans to make progress in offering reasonable speeds to their customers by 2013 is certainly a welcome development. However, there is a question of semantics with Jeremy Hunt’s promise that the UK will have “superfast” broadband by 2015. As it stands the UK fails to even make the world’s top 10 high-speed broadband countries, with the average Briton struggling day-to-day on a lower than advertised speed that would have no chance of streaming a HD program or movie – a crying shame with the launch of Netflix.

When we founded Be Broadband in 2005 critics questioned what people could do with 24 Mbps – seven years later its mainstream and we are now offering fibre-to-the-premises and speeds of up to 1 Gig. Connectivity demands are fast moving and if the UK wants to compete in the digital age and give customers access to what millions of other global consumers enjoy on a daily basis, then the strategy needs to be a whole new approach to the fibre revolution. And that’s not fibre-to-the-cabinet, its fibre-to-the-building – which not only adds value to the building; it enables consumers to take their internet experience to the next level."

UPDATE 16th January 2012

A new update has confirmed that Virgin's 50Mbps customers will actually be upgraded to 120Mbps instead of 100Mbps as originally planned (details).
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