Virgin Media tests 200Mbps cable network

Virgin Media has started testing a 200Mpbs network service in 100 houses in Ashford, Kent, following the commercial...

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Virgin Media has started testing a 200Mpbs network service in 100 houses in Ashford, Kent, following the commercial roll-out of its 50Mbps service, which is due to be completed at the end of the summer.

A Virgin Media spokesman said the company had identified 400,000 homes it could add to its present footprint of 12.5 million.

Cisco is providing technology and collaborative technical support for the pilot.

If the trials prove successful, this will be the fastest implementation of the DOCSIS3 technology, which allows broadband networking over TV-based co-axial cable, Virgina Media said. Equivalent services in Japan and the US currently reach 160Mbps and 101Mbps respectively.

Virgin Media will test applications using TV and broadband content in high definition (HD) and 3D. It will also test home IT networked applications, including video conferencing and home surveillance.

Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett said the pilot will run for at least six months and include technology and commercial viability tests. He said in-home networking could prove tricky as there are now no wireless routers that work at 200Mbps, and even personal computers need top-end specifications to take advantage of the extra speed.

A further issue is the development of applications that use the bandwidth fully.

She said the company was pushing for higher speeds on all media. In Wales its business division, ntl:Telewest, is working with a wireless network operator TFL to bring 100Mbps broadband access to rural areas. It is also waiting for T-Mobile, from whom it buys mobile broadband capacity, to introduce faster access.

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