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Virgin Media expands fibre-optic network into East London

Alex Scroxton

Virgin Media has kicked off a major expansion of its network, bringing 152Mbps fibre broadband to 100,000 homes in East London.

The cable provider claimed that the expansion, which will roll out across Bethnal Green, the Isle of Dogs, Newham and West Ham – with Stratford, Poplar, Stepney, Bow and East Ham to follow later – was the largest in its seven-year history, and would double the speed that BT currently provides to the area.

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Virgin Media’s fibre network is already available in over 50% of London homes. It has also played a leading role in deploying public Wi-Fi networks, with a number of public spaces in and around Hackney, as well as London Underground stations, already connected.

Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media's CEO, said: “This is a significant investment for Virgin Media and our largest, single network expansion project to date. We are very proud to be supercharging East London, helping thousands of people make the most of the UK’s exciting digital future.”

London mayor Boris Johnson, who last week pledged to bring 5G mobile networks to London within six years, said superfast broadband services were an expected utility.

“This latest expansion is a further welcome step towards making that aim a reality. Improving the connectivity of this great city will be a key part of the Infrastructure Plan for London that my team will be consulting on over the remainder of this summer,” he said.

Virgin Media’s announcement coincided with the release of its second-quarter results, covering the three months to 30 June 2014.

The Liberty Global-owned supplier said its rebased revenue grew by 3% to £1.1m during the quarter, with operating income up to £39m.

Customer losses reduced in the second quarter thanks to higher acquisitions and lower churn year-on-year, as well as strong take-up of its 50Mbps services.

It currently has 12.29m customers, or RGUs (revenue generating units), of whom 66.1% are triple-play customers, meaning they take phone, internet and cable TV products. Just under 17% of Virgin Media customers are classed as quad-play, meaning they also subscribe to mobile phone products.

Virgin Media Business sales rose by 6% rebased to £151.9m, as its strategy to transform itself from a connectivity-focused business to a complete managed services provider kicked into gear.

Notable successes so far this year included the connection of all 33 London boroughs to the Public Services Network (PSN).


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