Virgin Media commencing next-generation gigabit internet in Southampton

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• Nearly 15 million homes across the UK to benefit from gigabit broadband connections by the end of 2021

• ‘Gigabit Britain’ plan will bring hyperfast connectivity to more than a million people in at least two UK cities this year

• Latest technology will be rolled out across Virgin Media’s entire national network over the next two years starting in Southampton where the first trial customers are already connected

Virgin Media has today unveiled a bold boost to UK broadband with plans that will bring next-generation gigabit connections to its entire network by the end of 2021 - making it the UK’s largest and fastest widely available residential gigabit connectivity provider.

Providing nearly 15 million UK households with access to gigabit broadband speeds represents a significant step towards delivering the Government’s ambition to make reliable, gigabit-capable connections widely available over the coming years.

Virgin Media will introduce this next-generation service in cities across its national network later in the year, starting with Southampton, where the first customers trialling these speeds have already been connected.

The scale of the plan, and rapid expansion programme, will mean more than a million people will be able to access broadband speeds of 1Gbps (1,000Mbps) by the end of 2019, allowing them to take advantage of emerging consumer technologies such as cloud gaming and virtual reality entertainment as well as 8K video streaming across the home. Millions more homes are set to benefit next year when the service is expanded across the UK.

Virgin Media, through the backing of Liberty Global, has invested billions of pounds to expand its network and provide speed upgrades unmatched by other major providers, all while broadband usage has increased by almost 40% in the last year.

Virgin Media is now rolling out next-generation broadband technology, known as DOCSIS 3.1, across its cable network which will bring faster, more reliable broadband speeds to customers’ homes. Gigabit broadband speeds will be available later in the year, with the capability to roll out multi-gigabit connections and further improvements over the next decade.

Lutz Schüler, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Media, said: "This is a giant digital leap forward for the UK.

"Virgin Media has been the unparalleled speed leader for many years. Very soon, for the first time ever, millions of people right across the country will be able to experience hyperfast and reliable gigabit internet connections thanks to the latest technology and the power of our network.

"This upgrade plan will see gigabit speeds rolled out at an unrivalled pace right across the country, bringing our customers the future-proof connections of tomorrow."

Sharon White, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: "We welcome Virgin Media’s commitment to investing further in its network, providing gigabit speeds to millions more households. This shows the race to roll out ultrafast speeds to people and businesses across the UK is really gathering pace."

Virgin Media has the largest gigabit-capable network in the UK which currently passes nearly 15 million UK premises. The network consists of both fibre-rich cable and fibre connected directly to the premises, both of which can provide customers with gigabit speeds.

In February, as further proof of its network innovation and broadband speed leadership, Virgin Media began trialling the UK’s fastest home broadband with a full fibre connection offering speeds of more than 8Gbps to homes in Cambridgeshire. The trial made use of EPON (Ethernet Passive Optical Network) technology - a global point-to-point network standard.