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February 26, 2016updated 31 Aug 2016 12:38pm

Virgin Media targets Birmingham tech hubs with ‘ultrafast’ fibre broadband

News: Over 2000 businesses will benefit from access to 100 Mbps connectivity.

By Alexander Sword

Virgin Media will provide ‘ultrafast’ broadband to tech clusters in Birmingham as part of its ongoing drive in the small business market.

The scheme will target over 2000 businesses in Birmingham’s tech hubs, providing products of 50 Mbps or 100 Mbps. There will also be leased lines of 1 Gbps available.

The scheme will be available to 250 buildings in the Jewellery Quarter, Colmore Business District, Hagley Road and Broad Street.
The ultrafast fibre is connected to multi-tenanted buildings, with individual customers able to choose their product.

The services will provide equal upload and download speeds, which will cater to businesses employing two-way applications such as Voice over IP telephony.

The launch follows similar packages being launched in 2015 in London’s Tech City and Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

Virgin Media calls the service ultrafast, although Ofcom redefined ultrafast broadband as speeds of 300 Mbps late last year.

Virgin Media’s targeting of this market is part of its new drive to fill the gap left after the Government discontinued its Super Connected Cities (SCC) scheme in October last year.

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The SCC scheme had provided broadband grants of up to £3000 for business customers, although according to Virgin Media 86 percent of the installations completed under the programme costed under £1000.

The Government ended its scheme after allocating all the funds. The scheme was originally meant to run until March 2015 but was boosted for a further six months with a £40 million challenger fund.

Virgin Media responded with a new trial programme in which it committed to cover up to £1000 of installation costs in 50 cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Virgin Media said in a statement that the city had been identified as an area that would benefit from ultrafast connectivity.

Like Manchester’s Northern Quarter, Birmingham is garnering a greater reputation as a tech hub. According to Business Birmingham, the digital sector in Greater Birmingham provides £2 billion in gross added value.

Initiatives such as the Oxygen Accelerator and the Innovation Birmingham Campus are helping to mentor and develop local companies. The latter is home to 100 companies with specialisms including coding, software, digital gaming and low carbon technologies.

The city benefits from a local network of universities, with 15 within an hour’s drive.

Compared to other large cities in the UK, Birmingham already does fairly well for superfast broadband coverage.

A CBR analysis of figures from thinkbroadband.com in October found that out of the top ten biggest cities in the UK, Birmingham had the second most superfast coverage of 95.2 percent.

This was behind only Bristol, with superfast coverage of 97.2 percent, and ahead of London which has coverage of 92.6 percent.

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