Virgin Media O2 ‘completes’ gigabit upgrade after two years

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    UK Sentinel
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    Virgin Media O2 says it has completed an upgrade enabling gigabit speeds at all 15.5 million homes on its network.
    Gigabit broadband means speeds of more than 1,000Mbps (megabits per second) – about 20 times the average home connection speed.

    Reaching such speeds has been a government goal since it made election pledges on broadband in 2019.
    Virgin says it has “single-handedly” delivered nearly two-thirds of the government goal.

    The scale of the rollout, which took about two years, is “extremely impressive”, said analyst Paolo Pescatore from PP Foresight.

    But Virgin had an easier time of it than other broadband providers, as it updated its systems to provide better performance on its existing wires.

    “In essence this overlay boosts capacity and download speeds rather than having to dig up roads and install new cables,” Mr Pescatore said.

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    And Virgin “clearly lags its rivals on fibre, which is an area that remains a key battleground for all providers”, he warned – as so-called “full-fibre” may offer much better speeds in the future.

    As a result of this upgrade, Virgin now says its gigabit network is “more than twice the size of its nearest competitor”.

    Top priority

    The company says every home on its network can now access network speeds of up to 1,130Mbps. Recent research from telecoms regulator Ofcom found the average home broadband connection stood at 50.4Mbps.

    Customers must pay more for access to the highest-speed packages, with full gigabit speeds costing at least £62 a month.

    Virgin’s progress completing the upgrade is being welcomed, with Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries saying that high-speed internet remains a “top priority”.

    “Virgin Media O2’s efforts mean we’re making quick progress in our mission to level up the UK with better connectivity,” she said.

    “We must ensure that rural areas are not left behind,” she added, pointing to promised investments for “hard-to-reach communities”.


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