Virgin Media O2 expands 1Gbps broadband to 12.8m UK homes

Virgin Media O2
(Image credit: Virgin Media O2)

Virgin Media O2 is closing in on its target of rolling out 1Gbps speeds across the entirety of its cable network by the end of the year, adding 2.5 million homes and businesses to its gigabit network.

Brighton, Colchester, Derby, Gillingham, Portsmouth, Southend, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent, Swansea, Wakefield are among the new gigabit locations, bringing the total number to 12.8 million. The company has committed to reaching is entire footprint of 15.5 million by the end of 2021.

Virgin Media O2 says the speeds will help customers who have become more reliant on their connection for work, education, and everyday life, and will support bandwidth-intensive services like video streaming, online gaming, and videoconferencing.

Virgin Media O2 gigabit

“Our continued investment means more than three-quarters of our network is now gigabit ready, offering millions of households across the country access to future-proof services and the fastest broadband available from any major provider,” said Virgin Media CEO Lutz Schüler.

“We’re continuing with our mission to upgrade the UK and connect our entire network to gigabit speeds by the end of the year – a pace unrivalled by any other provider.”

Once this current upgrade is completed, Virgin Media O2 plans to go even further as part of a £10 billion, five-year investment. By 2028, the entirety of the Virgin Media O2 network will be powered by Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) technology that could support ‘symmetrical’ upload and download speeds of 10Gbps.

The fact that its network is fully ducted means the installation of fibre should be simpler and more cost-effective than similar rollouts and the company is looking into potentially expanding its footprint should the opportunity arise.

It was reported that Virgin Media O2 is in discussions with Sky about the latter becoming an investor in the rollout, while Vodafone and TalkTalk have been sounded out as potential wholesale customers.

Schüler has previously spoken of his desire to establish Virgin Media O2 as a genuine converged challenger to BT-EE, capable of offering services that combine 5G and fibre for seamless connectivity.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.