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May 11, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 11:46am

Lightning growth sees record start to the year for Virgin Media

News: Added 70,000 premises to its network in Q1 under Project Lighting.

By CBR Staff Writer

Virgin Media is on track to offer ultrafast fibre-optic broadband to half a million UK homes this year under its Project Lighting programme.

The company made the announcement while releasing its quarterly results for the three months ending 31 March. It saw net customer additions of 55,000 in the UK for the quarter, as well as the addition of 70,000 premises to the network.

"From a new build perspective, Project Lightning is a key source of customer growth for us in the UK," it said.

Last month, the broadband provider said that it would connect fibre to the premise (FTTP) to at least a quarter of 4 million homes and businesses.

Since the launch of the £3bn project in 2015, the company has connected nearly 330,000 premises and plans to connect over 750,000 by the end of the year.

Virgin said that it had rolled out a new initiative during the quarter to generate interest and awareness of the Lighting programme.

Virgin in a statement said: "Our "super-charging local communities challenge" invites communities to rally together to register their interest for our services. We will prioritise build based on the level of interest received.

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"Demand remains strong and we are continuing to work closely with our partners to ensure a smooth and efficient process from planning through build, sales and installation."

The company’s internet connections more than doubled to 67,000 in the quarter on year-over-year basis, while fixed-line telephony connections more than tripled to 44,000.

Total revenue increased by 4% to £1.17bn in the March quarter of this year compared to £1.12bn recorded in the same quarter in 2015.

The company’s statement said: "Our record customer growth in the UK has contributed to our 144,000 net customer additions over the last twelve months, helped by a continued reduction in churn.

"Revenue Generating Units (RGU" performance improved across each of our four products year-over-year, with growth coming from our existing cable footprint and new build homes added as part of Project Lightning."

In April, the firm said that it plans to connect a total of 17 million premises to the network by 2019, making it one of the biggest investments in the UK’s broadband infrastructure in more than a decade.

A recent report by Ofcom, ranked the UK at 30th position among the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations in terms of FTTP coverage.

Virgin Media’s UK network claims to offer a speed of up to 200Mbps for consumers and 300Mbps for businesses.

The company said that the usage of new engineering techniques such a ‘narrow trenching’ can reduce the cost and speed up the deployment of FTTP in areas where there is high demand.

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