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Virgin Media to roll out FTTP broadband to a million UK homes

Wednesday, April 27th 2016 by

At least one million homes and businesses will get fibre broadband directly into their homes as part of Virgin Media’s ‘Project Lightning’ rollout.

Virgin today announced that at least a quarter of the four million extra premises being added to its network as part of the expansion will be connected using fibre to the premises (FTTP) technology.

The move will make it the UK’s largest wholly fibre broadband network, the company said.

Virgin Media differs from BT Openreach’s network in the way it provides broadband. Rather than using copper cables to take a connection from a street cabinet to a home or business, it uses a ‘coaxial’ cable.

Research by Cable.co.uk recently revealed that two thirds of fibre broadband customers on BT’s Openreach network – which services around 80% of the UK's total broadband customer base – are unaware their so-called 'fibre' service is delivered through a standard copper telephone line.

The misconception is important because speeds available over copper reduce drastically over distance, severely limiting both current speeds and future upgradability.

Last year Virgin Media announced Project Lightning, a £3bn network expansion that will connect 4m premises to ultrafast broadband.

The company has described it as the single largest investment in the UK’s broadband infrastructure in more than a decade.

And today, it pledged to accelerate the UK’s rollout of pure fibre broadband by providing FTTP – which uses fibre optic cable all the way into your home or business – to at least one in four of those properties.

CEO Tom Mockridge 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.

'Putting its money where its mouth is'

“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.”

Virgin said it has already started to roll out FTTP in Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire with work expected to start soon in West Yorkshire, Devon and East Sussex.

The company said it expects that Project Lightning will be directly responsible for creating 6,000 new jobs, including 1,000 new apprenticeships.

Since the project launched in February last year Virgin has connected 250,000 new premises, and created 2,100 jobs in the UK.

During 2016 it expects to connect 500,000 new premises, creating a further 500 jobs in the UK.

Chancellor 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.”

He said it was “fantastic” to hear about Virgin’s plans to create 500 new jobs and expand its ultrafast internet service to 4 million new homes and businesses.

Virgin plans to connect a total of 17m premises to the network by 2019.

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