Virgin Media tests 400Gbps multigigabit fibre tech

Virgin Media
(Image credit: Virgin Media)

Virgin Media says it has successfully tested a new fibre network technology that could allow customers to receive multi-gigabit broadband speeds of 10Gbps or more.

The multi-gigabit speeds were achieved by installing a new piece of prototype technology into its fibre optic access network (PON) infrastructure in Reading.

PON is used for the last mile of a broadband connection, linking businesses and households (along with mobile infrastructure) to the wider internet. This essentially describes the fibre connection between a house, cabinet, and exchange.

Virgin Media 400Gbps gigabit

Fibre networks transmit data through a series of electrical switches and optical transceivers that control the flow and speed of information. Virgin Media replaced traditional network receivers with prototype Infinera XR Optics technology that effectively split a single fibre into many connections.

Testing has proved a single fibre can reach 400Gbps, meaning multiple customers will be able to access symmetrical multigigabit connections. This means home broadband connections could go above the 10Gbps speeds trialled in Cambridgeshire last year. 

Multiple households were able to share the capacity of the fibre network and achieve the headline bitrate. Promisingly, the technology can be installed in existing network infrastructure and be configured remotely, paving the way for massive deployment in the future.

Virgin Media says the upgrade futureproofs its network by accommodating additional demand for remote working, data-intensive video streaming and other applications, and 5G backhaul.

“Our next-generation network already offers gigabit connectivity to more than 7 million homes, but with data use and demand for hyperfast speeds surging, we’re continually investing in our network to prepare for whatever the future brings,” said Jeanie York, CTIO at Virgin Media.

“Innovations like this ensure our customers continue to benefit from the UK’s fastest widely available speeds, pave the way for future network upgrades and help support the rollout of multi-gigabit broadband and mobile services.”

Virgin Media’s network currently covers more than 15 million premises, meaning nearly half can access gigabit speeds. The company is set to merge its operations with O2 later this year, subject to regulatory approval.

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.