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April 28, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 10:44am

Virgin Media to offer ultrafast fibre optic broadband to one million UK homes

Reveals Project Lightning to connect 17 million premises by 2019

By CBR Staff Writer

Virgin Media has announced that it will roll out ultrafast fibre-optic broadband to about one million homes and businesses in the UK over the next three years, as part of its expansion plans.

Under ‘Project Lightning’, the broadband provider will connect fibre to the premise (FTTP) to at least a quarter of the 4 million additional homes and businesses being added to its network.

Overall, 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, the firm said.

Tom Mockridge, CEO of Virgin Media, said: “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.

“In just over one year we’ve laid enough new cable to stretch all the way from Land’s End to John O’Groats, reaching a quarter of a million more homes and businesses – and there’s much more to come.”

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.

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Virgin said that the expansion of its ‘always faster’ network in the UK is continuing. The network is an alternative to the ageing copper telephony-based network provided by the British Telecom.

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

It has a Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) network in the country, which combines optical fibre and coaxial cable. The company’s coaxial cable powered by DOCSIS3 technology delivers fast broadband.

With FTTP already being launched in Cambridgeshire, the company is expected to expand the network to West Yorkshire, Devon and East Sussex soon.

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.

According to an economic consultancy firm Oxera, Virgin’s expansion plans are expected to boost the UK economy by an estimated £8bn.

Virgin estimates Project Lightning to create 6,000 new jobs, including 1,000 new apprentices.

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne said: “Backing firms that grow and create jobs is a key part of our plan to boost productivity and deliver economic security for working people.

“It’s fantastic to be at Virgin Media today to hear about their plans to create 500 new hig?hly skilled jobs this year, and expand their ultrafast Internet service to 4 million new homes and businesses.”

Since the start of the project in February 2015, Virgin has connected 250,000 new premises, creating 2,100 jobs in the UK. In 2016, the company aims to connect 500,000 new premises, generating another 500 jobs.

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