Virgin Media today announced that it will expand its fibre optic network to 7,000 homes and businesses in Swindon as part of its £3bn Project Lightning programme.
This investment extends Virgin Media’s existing network which passes 65,000 premises in the town giving more Swindon residents and business owners a much needed, and demanded, connectivity and entertainment boost with access to the fastest widely-available broadband speeds.
The announcement from Virgin Media presents competition for the Swindon Borough Council backed 4G Superfast Swindon project provided by UKB Networks, a contract worth almost £2m. The system, which uses 4G monopoles in select sites around the Swindon area, offers minimum speeds of 24 megabytes per second and has been fought by campaign groups in North Swindon particularly. Superfast Swindon officially launched on 11 June in Swindon town centre.
Fibre optic cables will be connected directly to premises Swindon (known as fibre to the premise – FTTP) offering ultrafast, future-proof connectivity with speeds of 200Mbps for consumers and 300Mbps for businesses and home workers. BT Openreach have been trialling their version of this technology in the North Swindon area since late February, with over 500 homes now connected.
Work will start in the next two months and will be completed in early 2017. A significant part of the build will take place in north-west Swindon covering the Haydon, Priory Vale and Blunsdon St Andrew areas. Network gaps will also be filled throughout Swindon in areas including Greenmeadow, Old Town, Toothill and Eastleaze. Local residents can find out more details about when their homes will be connected by visiting virginmedia.com/cablemystreet and registering their interest.
Paul Buttery (pictured), Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Media, said: “The calls from residents in Swindon for better, faster broadband have been heard and Virgin Media will soon be bringing our ultrafast connectivity and top-notch entertainment to more parts of the town
“This investment demonstrates that under Project Lightning Virgin Media will build to areas which no other fixed broadband provider has previously been able to connect. Given that public funding has been used in some areas of Swindon to fund a mobile broadband solution, it’s vital that local authorities properly assess the prospect of private investment before using taxpayer’s money to fund broadband rollout.
“We urge more communities to come together and register their interest. Your area could be connected next.”
Justin Tomlinson MP, Member of Parliament for Swindon North said: “This is a significant and very much welcome boost for fellow Swindon residents. There is absolutely no doubt there will be huge demand, especially as for many it will be the first time they have access to genuinely superfast fibre broadband.”
Cllr Toby Elliott, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for superfast broadband, said: “Residents and businesses across the town have been calling for this quality, high speed, fibre broadband for some time. Justin Tomlinson MP, the ward Councillors and myself have worked with Virgin Media for over a year to deliver this and I couldn’t be more delighted about their investment in Swindon.”
Ultrafast broadband up to 300 Mbps
For residents, Virgin Media’s Vivid 200 broadband offers the fastest widely available broadband – with download speeds of up to 200Mbps. This is more than two and a half times faster than the top widely available speeds from BT, TalkTalk and Sky meaning that a whole household can stream movies, music and more all at the same time.
For businesses, Virgin Media Business now offers ultrafast connectivity, with speeds of up to 300Mbps – almost four times faster than its main competitors’ widely available top speeds. This enables businesses to reach their potential by delivering better services and greater capacity.
Plus, the latest entertainment with up to 260 TV channels, including 66 HD channels as well as access to Sky Sports, Sky Movies and BT Sport, and an extensive TV on demand library of exclusive shows, box sets and movies.
New, faster build method
This FTTP expansion uses an innovative way of bringing ultrafast broadband to people’s homes with minimal disruption. The approach, called narrow-trenching, reduces the width of the trench used to lay optical fibre cables from around 40cm to just 10cm and enables engineers to cover up to 100m in a day, making it more than twice as fast as current methods. Swindon residents will receive the very latest broadband technology with fibre delivered direct to the home.
While a significant proportion of this expansion will see fibre connected directly to premises, Virgin Media also has an existing Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) network in Swindon and in many areas of the UK. This HFC network combines optical fibre and coaxial cable. The core network is fibre optic which provides ultrafast broadband to the street cabinet. Broadband is then delivered to the majority of premises using the Company’s superior coaxial cable powered by DOCSIS3 technology. Regardless of the method used to connect premises – FTTP or HFC – all residents will receive the same experience and the same ultrafast speeds.
Virgin Media recently pledged to provide FTTP to at least one in four properties in its Project Lightning expansion.
By the end of 2019 Virgin Media has committed to increase connectivity across the UK, expanding its optical fibre network to 4 million more homes and businesses.