ISP Virgin Media O2 Completes UK Gigabit Broadband Deployment Update

Virgin Media Broadband ISP (VMO2) launched its latest batch of DOCSIS 3.1 network upgrades today, bringing an additional 1.1 million homes within reach of “gigabit”Download speeds (1130 Mbps down and 52 Mbps up) and means that c.65% of UK premises should now be covered by“gigabit compatible broadband. “

The latest batch of locations to be upgraded are not named in the ad, but we understand they include Exeter, Poole, Plymouth, Norwich, Luton, Loughbrough, Oldham, Rochdale and parts of Surrey and Hertfordshire that were not upgraded earlier in the year. Prior to today, VMO2 had already upgraded 14.3 million of its covered premises to the new cable standard, and the latest change will complete that picture for 15.5 million.

REMARK: D3.1 uses enhancements such as Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), which can encode data using multiple carrier frequencies and increases the amount of radio spectrum up to 200 MHz. This also supports other enhancements, such as Distributed Access Architecture / Remote Phy (R-PHY) – here and here.

Until today, a good part of VMO2 customers on the existing EuroDOCSIS 3.0 of the operator based Hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) and Fiber to the premises The (FTTP) network could already access ultra-fast speeds of c.630 Mbps (Ultimate Oomph TV bundle), but by adopting the D3.1 standard, they were able to significantly increase downstream performance up to 1 Gbps (potentially reaching 2 Gbps + in the future).

As a result of all of this, Virgin Media has, in a fairly short period of time (2 years), brought its 15.5 million of its covered premises within reach of gigabit compatible broadband download speeds. This, combined with competing FTTP deployments from other carriers, is expected to bring the UK’s overall gigabit coverage to around 65% (FTTP providers alone provide around 29%, but a good chunk of that includes overbuilding with VMO2).

Lutz Schüler, CEO of VMO2, said:

“Just two years ago we set out to lead the gigabit revolution in the UK and today we have delivered on their promises. Our investment in bringing gigabit broadband to every home on our network has catapulted the UK’s digital infrastructure by a decade and forced others to improve their gaming.

As by far the largest supplier of gigabits in the country, we are the driving force behind the widespread availability of gigabit four years ahead of the government’s target.

Having reached this major milestone in just two years, we are doubling down on our mission to upgrade the UK by continuing to innovate and invest in our network to support the technologies of tomorrow – there is no slowdown at Virgin Media O2.

Nadine Dorries MP, UK Digital Secretary, said:

“Bringing broadband to everyone’s homes is a top priority and the efforts of Virgin Media O2 mean that we are moving quickly on our mission to upgrade the UK with better connectivity.

We need to ensure that rural areas are not left behind, which is why alongside the rollout of industry we are investing up to £ 5bn to make premium speeds available in communities difficult to reach. “

The problem here is that future progress will be much slower, as it will come almost entirely from new FTTP deployments that take a lot longer to build than just upgrading the existing kit and will likely have to overbuild an existing kit first. large part of VMO2 gigabit compatible patch. On top of that, upgrading VMO2 still leaves the upstream side of their network stuck on the old D3.0 standard, which is why the speed is only around 50Mbps.

A trial, which was conducted last year, however increased downloads to 214 Mbps by applying D3.1 on the upstream side (here), but it’s unclear when or even if they will deploy it. More recent trials, which had similar characteristics to the first, have seen downloads drop to 50 Mbps (here and here). In other words, we can expect a 2 Gbps plan in the future, but a question mark will continue to hang over downloads.

However, over the next few years VMO2 will still be able to claim to be the UK’s largest provider of gigabit speeds, even if it’s just the downstream side. In comparison, big rival Openreach (BT) plans to reach 25 million premises with gigabit FTTP by December 2026 (around 80% of the UK), but they are currently only 6 million and above. and play a long catch-up game with VMO2.

Meanwhile, VMO2 previously declared a wave “ambition”To extend their new FTTP network to reach a 7 million households over the next 5 years. On top of that, they will also be coming back to upgrade their entire landline network – around 14.3 million premises in existing HFC zones – to XGS-PON-based symmetrical speed FTTP by the next year. end of 2028 (here). A wholesale solution for UK ISPs is also expected.

REMARK: VMO2 is investing £ 10bn in fixed line and 5G upgrades over the next 5 years.

Customers who subscribe to Gig1Fiber Virgin Media package today will usually be sent a capable D3.1 HUB 4.0 (TG3492LG-VMB / Gigabit Connection Box) router, and you can see the specifications for it in this article. But they also launched a much better version. HUB 5.0 (Sagemcom F3896LG-VMB) router (details), although this is technically still a pre-launch test.

Prices for the new 1 Gbps broadband plan generally start at £ 62 per month (autonomous broadband) for a period of 18 months and are accompanied by a guaranteed price freeze for at least 24 months. Customers can also use it with their various pay TV and phone plans, although at an additional cost.

UPDATE 8h

A final point to emphasize here is that there is sometimes a short extra time interval between VMO2 making such announcements and the change actually becoming active. Virgin informed us that their website / auditor has yet to be updated to fully reflect today’s news.

Additionally, Virgin Media informed us that the last 1.1 million locals today are from Exeter, Poole, Plymouth, Norwich, Luton, Loughbrough, Oldham, Rochdale and parts of Surrey and Hertfordshire which had not been modernized earlier in the year. We’ve updated the article above to reflect this.

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