Virgin Media has announced that it's ramping up its FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) broadband plans with a major rollout of direct connections to homes and businesses across the UK.
Last year, Virgin Media said it would hook up four million homes and business premises to its network as part of its Project Lightning expansion, and the company has now stated that at least a quarter of these premises will get FTTP.
That's at least a million homes and businesses which will benefit from FTTP (as opposed to FTTC or fibre-to-the-cabinet, in which the last segment of the connection from the cabinet is still a traditional phone line) offering broadband speeds of up to 200Mbps for consumers and 300Mbps for businesses. And future speeds could be far quicker than this…
Virgin actually offers a Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) network, meaning that fibre runs to the street cabinet, and then a coaxial cable (utilising DOCSIS3 tech) is used from the cabinet to the premise. Apparently innovative 'narrow trenching' techniques will ensure a speedy rollout, and help Virgin keep the costs down to allow an expansion on this scale.
Narrow trenching simply means the trench used to lay the cable to the premise has been massively reduced in width (to around a quarter of the previous size), which means it's a far quicker process to lay the cables.
The FTTP rollout has already begun in Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire, and next in line is West Yorkshire, Devon and East Sussex.
Virgin has pledged that by 2019 it will have connected some 17 million premises to its network.
The company also says this is good news on the employment front, with Project Lightning creating no less than 6,000 jobs in the UK eventually. The project has already seen 2,100 new roles created with a further 500 jobs expected during the course of 2016.
Tom Mockridge, CEO of Virgin Media, commented: "Our £3bn investment to bring ultrafast connectivity to more parts of the UK is not just about better broadband, it's about future-proofing the country's network infrastructure with the best and most modern technology.
"While some companies talk a good game, Virgin Media is putting its money where its mouth is and laying fibre to the premise alongside our superior HFC network – delivering the fastest widely available broadband speeds."